Cold weather house fire prevention

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - With the cold weather approaching, the Wichita Falls Fire Department and the Red Cross are begging people to be smart and avoid a house fire.
They said they see more fires when it gets cold for a variety of reasons, one being space heaters.
    "Catastrophes, like a fire in the home, can be fatal," Jody Ashlock, a WFFD Assistant Fire Marshall said. "If not fatal, it can destroy everything you own."
This is something the Irwin family knows all too well.
35-year-old Kristina Irwin lost her life in a house fire caused by a space heater, on the day after thanksgiving.
Ashlock said there are always more fires this time of the year.
    "There are things that aren't present the rest of the year like electric heaters being turned on, gas-fired heaters being turned on, gas appliances in general and fire places," Ashlock said.
Katrina Farmer with the Red Cross agrees.
With help from the fire department, the Red Cross helps families get back on their feet after a fire.
She said the first cold snap tends to be the worst.
What can you do to be safe?
    "You need to make sure that any space heater you have is plugged up directly to the wall," Farmer said. "No extension chords because that makes it more dangerous. You also need to make sure that anything that could be flammable, kids toys, curtains or blankets are at least three feet away from that space heater."
Farmer said you will decrease you chances of a fire by half by having a working smoke detector.
    "House fires and the loss of property is one thing," Farmer said. "House fires and the loss of a life is a whole different thing."
    "The families experience that level of hurt," Ashlock said. "We experience it as well on a level that's different from the families because we see so much of it."
Both the fire department and the Red Cross have programs to help people who need smoke detectors in their home.
The Red Cross has a list of holiday home fire safety tips.
To view the complete list, click here.
Farmer and Ashlock said there are also a lot cooking fires this time of the year because more friers are being used and people are trying new recipes.
    "People tend to be careless with the turkey friers in the wrong area," Ashlock said. "People use them indoors and on top of flammable surfaces."
Ashlock said people need to stay next to their friers the entire time they are using them and to keep them away from anything that may be flammable near it.
We also talked with the Red Cross and they said to keep everything at least three feet away for safety.

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