We're not officially in winter yet, but the weather has been nothing short of freezing..and this is the time of year that keeps firefighters extra busy. Nationwide, officials say more fires happen due to heaters and chimneys. Firefighters say many are preventable. The weather outside has been frightful. Snow, sleet, slush you name it...the Tri-state has already experienced it this December. "We're going to see an increased usage of portable heating devices in the homes," says Evansville District Fire Chief Bruce Woodward. With this weather comes ways to stay warm, with space heaters or fireplaces, but there's also the risk of fires. Woodward warns, "It's important that if you're going to use a fireplace or a device that has a flute...that you have that inspected annually before you use the fireplace." Woodward says responses to fires are higher now through the spring. He says having a plan and following steps could save lives. "If there was a small fire, it would alert the family to a problem and give them early warning," Woodward explains. Working smoke detectors and having an emergency meeting place are key. Also, keep these portable heaters at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire, Woodward tells us "Fires can develop in these very quickly if they're not used per the instructions."
Evansville's Rural King on Morgan says it's sales of propane and heaters have increased 20% compared to last year's sales due to the early winter weather. Woodward says simple tips and proper preparation will keep you warm and safe, since we're months away from a sunny 75. Officials say never buy or operate a heating device you feel uncomfortable with. The U.S Fire Administration offers more information click here