Cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires in the United States, according to authorities.
In Payson last year, of the 81 fires, 40 percent were structure fires, said Payson Fire Department Marshal Bob Lockhart. Just in the last two months, two fires destroyed homes in a matter of minutes.
With winter approaching the Payson Fire Department and American Red Cross are reminding residents heating their homes with space heaters and fireplaces to use care.
According to the Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association, 79 percent of Americans are concerned about the cost of heating their home and use alternative heating sources to reduce their bills.
“If people use alternative heat sources to reduce energy costs, it is critical they use devices that are new or in good working order, and they turn off units when they go to bed or leave the room,” said NFPA President James Shannon.
When devices are used improperly, fires can start and people are injured. In 2006, home fires killed 2,500 and injured 12,500, according to NFPA.
Last year in Payson, home fires killed one person and injured three, Lockhart said.
If a fire does start, having a fire escape plan is the easiest way for every family member to escape safely. A fire escape plan should include two escape routes for each room in a home and a meeting place away from the fire.
The plan should be practiced twice a year. If you have to exit through smoke, crawl under the smoke and always feel a door before opening it to see if it is warm. If it is, use an alternative route.
The Payson Fire Department offers these tips to stay safe this winter in your home:
• Cooking: Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
• Heating: Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Electrical: Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords; use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by an electrician.
• Smoking: If you smoke, smoke outside and pay close attention to your surroundings. Wherever you smoke, use ashtrays.
Have a working smoke alarm in your home.
Have an escape plan and practice it.