Make sure our homes are safe for cold weather

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's impossible to read the story of a family of six, including four little girls, killed in a farmhouse fire in southeast Nebraska without shedding a tear.

We can only imagine how the friends, family, neighbors and firefighters who responded to the scene in rural Nehawka early Thursday.

The family had just moved into the 111-year-old house this summer.

Destruction was so complete authorities hadn't yet confirmed the family was killed, and it will take even longer, if ever, to determine what caused the fire.

With the first cold weather of the year arriving, it's possible a faulty furnace was to blame in this case, as they are in many fires this time of year.

Whatever the cause turns out to be, now is a good time to make sure our homes are safe and ready for winter.

Make sure furnace filters are changed and the heaters and vents are in good working condition, discard faulty electrical cords and make sure portable heaters are kept away from flammable materials.

Change smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries at least yearly and replace the devices if they are more than 10 years old.

Fire hazards increase for the next couple of months, as holiday decorations are put up. Make sure lights are in good working conditions, take precautions with both live and artificial Christmas trees and use extreme caution with lighted candles.

Cooking fires are also too common over the holiday season, and extreme caution needs to be used when preparing turkeys with a deep-fat fryer, as well as conventional stovetop and oven cooking.

Let's do our best to avoid future tragedies this winter.

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