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  • Writer's pictureRosebud Sioux Tribe


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Winter holidays can be a joyous time for all, but nearly 50% of civilian fire deaths occur throughout the winter season: November-February. Most heating fires in South Dakota involve fireplaces and chimneys. The most dangerous place to be, with regard to fire, is in your own home. Your home can be a cozy, warm place away from a harsh winter, but it can also become dangerous if you don’t take special precautions.

Tips to Eliminate Winter Fires

  • S a f e t y a r o u n d h e a t i n g 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 o t h e r h e a t i n g d e v i c e s 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.

  • 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 c o m p a n y o r q u a l i f i e d professional heating contractor and follow their advice.

  • Inspect heat tape before using it. Never thaw frozen pipes with an open flame.

Winter Safety Tips.

  • Protect neighborhood homes this winter. Keep your nearest fire hydrant clear of snow.

  • After holiday parties, check wastebaskets and furniture for smoldering cigarettes.

  • Place holiday decorations well away from heat sources. If you have a tree, water it daily.

  • Do not burn holiday wrappings in a fireplace; it may cause a chimney fire.

  • Pay attention when cooking. If a pan is on fire, cover it with a lid. Water will spread the fire.

  • Turn off and unplug lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving your house. Buy electrical decorations that have been approved by a national testing laboratory. Don’t overload outlets. Candle Burning Safety Tips

  • Place candles on a secure surface in sturdy noncombustible holders that won’t tip over. Make sure the holder is large enough to catch drippings.

  • Keep candles away from children and pets. Candles should be out of children’s reach.

  • Keep candles away from combustible items such as curtains, books, and paper. Remember the “three-foot rule” - anything combustible needs to be kept three feet from a heat source.

  • Keep candles away from flammable liquids. Do not use a candle for light when fueling a kerosene heater or lantern. The flame may ignite the fumes.

  • Avoid using candles during a power outage. A flashlight is a safer option. Don’t carry a lit candle.

  • Remember to extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Never leave children or pets unattended in a room with a lit candle.

Winter Weather Preparedness Guide

SD Department of

Public Safety

Phone: 605.773.3231

Fax: 605.773.3580


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