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Fire safety important during periods of cold weather

Safety tips available on WFRS website

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With prolonged cold weather in the forecast, Whistler residents are being reminded to be careful when using space heaters, and to ensure their smoke detectors are in working order.

The Whistler Fire Rescue Service (WFRS) was asked to present at the Jan. 10 council meeting to provide tips for homeowners and renters.

"We had a horrible fatality last week where a young toddler was killed in Vancouver, due to a house fire... and it was determined that (a space heater) was the cause of the fire, but more importantly there was no working smoke detectors," said deputy fire chief Chris Nelson.

The WFRS has home heating and fire safety tips on its website at www.whistler.ca/services/emergency/emergency-program/winter-preparedness.

Check to ensure all smoke detectors are working - Nelson said he recommends smoke detectors on every floor of a house, in every sleeping unit, and CO2 detector units as well.

If you have a fireplace, gather and store extra firewood in a dry-sheltered area of your home.

Remember to have all home heating appliances (i.e. furnaces, fireplaces and woodstoves) serviced annually by a qualified technician. If burning daily, chimneys may need cleaning a few times over the winter.

Keep blankets, curtains, furniture, pillows and other combustibles at least 10 centimetres from heaters, and one metre from fireplaces, woodstoves or space heaters.

If you are using space heaters, turn them off before going to sleep or when leaving the home for any period of time. Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.

Only use generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas. Generators should be placed a safe distance away from the home. Never use a generator in your garage or basement.

"It seems we very often will have a house fire when we have a prolonged period of cold weather," Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said at the meeting.

"And it's usually a space heater or improper disposal of warm ashes on the outside porch."

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