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Keep your family safe and prevent house fires

It's that time of year again -- the threat of snow is in the air, furnaces are coming back on, and space heaters are being dragged out of storage and plugged in again.

It's one of the prime times for house fires, but a few proactive measures will help keep your family safe.

An estimated 84 percent of all fire deaths were caused by home fires. That's why it's important to focus on ways to keep homes fire safe and prevent painful burns.

Here is some key safety advice The National Fire Protection Association:

The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking, so pay attention to what you are cooking. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food.

When you cook, wear clothing with tight-fitting or short sleeves.

Use a fireplace screen to keep sparks inside the fireplace.

Turn portable space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding, or furniture, at least three feet from heaters.

Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.

Make sure your portable space heater has an auto shut-off so if it is tipped over, it will shut off.

Have your chimneys cleaned and inspected before each heating season.

Ask smokers to smoke outside and give them deep, sturdy ashtrays.

Never smoke if you are tired or have taken medicine, drugs, or alcohol that makes you sleepy.

Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords.

Use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.

Call a qualified electrician or landlord if you have recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, discolored or warm wall outlets, flickering lights or a burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance.

Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

For best protection, use both photoelectric and ionization technology. You can use individual ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or combination units that contain both technologies in the same unit.

Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.

Have a home fire escape plan. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible, and a meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan twice a year.

When it comes to fire prevention, you can't be too careful.