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This week is Winter Hazard Safety week. Each day is devoted to a different topic concerning winter safety. To help with the effort, cities across the state are holding forums, providing daily winter safety tips and publicizing the effort in local newspapers and on city websites.

The week is broken down as:


  • Every year since 2001, cooking has been the number one cause of home fires; In 2008, 48 percent of residential fires originated in the kitchen.
  • Open flames and heating fires were numbers two and three.
  • Most heating fires in Minnesota involve fireplaces or chimneys.
  • 73 percent of the 2008 civilian fire deaths occurred where people generally feel safest, at home.
  • In 2007, 26 percent of home fire deaths took place in homes without working smoke detectors.

Safe Behavior

Your home can be a cozy, warm place to spend the winter,
but it can become a nightmare if you don’t "watch what you heat!"

  • Safety around heating equipment and appliances is an important first step in reducing the threat of fire. Keep children and loose clothing at a safe distance.
  • Use a yardstick to measure the distance between heating equipment and combustible material. Unless you have three feet of clearance, you are at risk.
  • Always turn off portable heating appliances when leaving home or retiring for the evening. Be sure the fire in the fireplace is out before going to bed.
  • Have chimneys, fireplaces and other heating devices inspected by a qualified professional at the start of every heating season.
  • Use a sturdy screen or glass closure in front of your fireplace, and burn only clean fireplace wood. Never burn treated lumber.
  • According to Minnesota State Law, carbon monoxide detectors should be present within ten feet of each bedroom area in the home.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, and test them monthly.
  • If you smell gas in your home, contact your local utility company or qualified professional heating contractor and follow their advice.
  • Install a residential fire sprinkler system in your home.
  • Inspect heat tape before using it.
  • Never thaw frozen pipes with an open flame.

Identifying the reason behind the week the HSEM press release identified the issues:

Over the last 10 years, more than 50 people drowned after falling through thin ice, and 65 percent of ice drownings were vehicle related. Last winter, 22 people died in snowmobile accidents; half those fatal events involved alcohol or drug use. And during 2005–2007 in Minnesota, officers reported snow or icy road conditions in nearly 41,000 crashes that resulted in 159 deaths and 13,000 injuries. Clearly, people are being “surprised” by weather conditions."

The plan is, no matter how harsh the winter, to make sure everyone is safe and alive at the end of it.

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