Combat fire hazards as you stay warm this winter

When it’s cold outside, most folks like to be inside, snug and warm. And then when a storm hits and the power goes out, the quest for heat is intensified.

With winter on its way, we want to remind you to stay safe while you’re staying warm.

We talked this week with Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard and Assistant Chief Rich Malizia about avoiding fire while staying warm. Here are some tips they offered:


“The best way to stay safe in a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Chief Hubbard.

“The next best thing is to already have in place a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to alert you as soon as possible to trouble,” added Malizia.

The other piece of advice the two offered is to make sure each person in the family has at least two ways out of their bedroom and that the family has an escape plan that is practiced.


In the Pacific Northwest we have a large variety of ways we heat our homes. Some are safer than others. Some we only use when our typical way of heating our home is interrupted.

Here are some things to remember to safely heat your home:

• If you use your fireplace or woodstove, make sure to have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year. A small fire in a chimney can cause the roof and whole house to burn.

• Make sure your fireplace has a screen large enough to stop flying sparks and rolling logs.

• Only use seasoned wood — never green wood, artificial logs or trash — in your wood stove. Seasoned wood looks dark or gray when compared to green wood. It is white on the inside.

• Don’t use a kerosene heater inside your home. (If you do use a kerosene heater for outside use, make sure to use the type of fuel listed on the instructions.)

• If you decide to buy a space heater, purchase one that automatically shuts off if the unit falls over. That is a critical safety feature!

• If you use space heaters, remember they need space! Keep items at least three feet away from each heater. (Pay close attention this time of year, when drying clothes or things like wrapping paper tend to be scattered about.)

• Space heaters must always be plugged directly to the power outlet. No extension cords or multi-plug adapter (power strip) should be used.

Next week we’ll review how to safely use a portable generator in the event of a power outage.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.