All winter long, families should take simple steps to protect their homes and their families from the dangers of household hazards that can cause electrical and heating fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fireplaces that go unused for most of the year, get lots of use around the holidays and during winter as they provide a source of heat and a cozy atmosphere. Yet, they also provide a great source of danger if you don't know what preventive steps to take to keep your home and family safe.

Extension cords
Residents are encouraged to read the label on extension cord or make sure their electric heater is set up safely. It is simple actions like these that prevent home fires during the winter months.

During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses across the country, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Electrical appliances
Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Carbon monoxide poisoning
The heating season also increases the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless and potentially fatal gas produced by home heating systems, hot water heaters, faulty chimneys, kerosene or fuel oil room heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces, charcoal grills and car exhaust. It can cause flu-like symptoms, vomiting, loss of consciousnss, brain damage and eventually death.

Our flyer "Is your family safe from fire?" suggests simple steps you can take to prevent electrical and heater fires and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Installing smoke detectors an