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Safety Tips from the Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council

Winter Safety Tips

December, January and February are the leading months for home fires in the United States. On average, more than one-third of home fire deaths occur during winter months. Most home heating fires are caused by human error and can be prevented. The Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council encourages you to review the following guidelines.

Furnace heating

Wood stoves and fireplace

Space heaters

Winter driving

Before winter approaches, everyone should focus on preparation. Winterize your car early to avoid the long lines at service stations. Proper care and maintenance of your vehicle may avoid delays and costly repairs later. Most importantly, being prepared could save your life. The following items should be checked annually:

Survival kits

Even with proper vehicle maintenance, there is always the chance of becoming stranded. Prepare a survival kit and keep it in your car at all times. Each kit should include:

If stranded, don't leave the car unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Stay on the road if at all possible. Use the candles to keep warm. If you must use the vehicle heater, start the engine for short periods of time only and leave the window slightly open while the motor is running so carbon monoxide can escape.

Travel smart and drive defensively. Remember, unless your vehicle is equiped with an anti-lock braking system, when trying to stop your vehicle-pump the brakes instead of applying constant pressure to the brake pedal. If your vehicle is equiped with an anti-lock braking system pumping the brake pedal will defeat this system increasing your stopping distance. Please refer to your vehicles manual for verification and the correct procedure.

Plan your trip and always let someone know your travel plans, route and estimated time of arrival. If possible, don't drive alone. When traveling long distances, contact the highway patrol for road conditions. Use the radio often and keep it tuned to a station that has updates on weather and road conditions. Remember, preparation and smart traveling is the key to survival.

Additional tips

In addition to a working smoke detector on each level of the home, the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department recommends that every home have a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes thousands of deaths each year because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless and often goes undetected until it’s too late.


Floyd Peoples, Chief Fire Marshal, Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department, 816-784-9100
Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council, 9550 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan. 66212