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Cold Weather Means Higher Risk for Home Fires

CHAMPAIGN-- Every two and a half hours, somebody in the U.S. is killed by a house fire. As people stay indoors to get away from the cold they turn to alternative heat sources to keep warm. But that's the exact reason home fires become more deadly during the winter months, when steps aren't taken to stay safe.

"If you're using a fireplace, ensure the chimney has been cleaned in the last 12 months, remove any kind of soot that would not allow the products of combustion to exit the house." said Champaign Fire Department Leiutenent, Dominic Pasquini.

According to the American Red Cross, heating fires are the second leading cause of residential fires behind cooking and space heaters account for two-thirds of those home heating fires. During the winter months, they match smoking as the leading cause of home fire deaths.

Believe it or not, your furnace could also be a hazard if you don't take proper care of it.

"Just because it's brand new doesn't mean that it doesn't need regular maintenance and things going on." said Lanz Heating and Cooling Technician, Jake Farmer.

Heating system technicians recommend getting your home units inspected once every 12 months to ensure proper operation. They also recommend replacing your CO2 alarms once every 5 years to protect your home from the odor-less and color-less deadly gas. New alarms are required by law to show the date printed on the back.

"They need to make sure that they get their internal combustion heaters checked so their furnaces and whatnot have some hvac system, have all their HVAC systems checked by a reputable dealer.", said Pasquini.

--Reported by David Ade