Officials sound the alarm on home heating safety this winter
Officials are sounding the alarm to make sure people are safe from fires while they try to heat their homes.
There have been five fires in the city of Poughkeepsie since mid-November. With temperatures dropping, Poughkeepsie Fire Department Chief Mark Johnson is preparing to respond to more.
"This time of year, our big spike so to say are due mostly… heating-related," he says.
In his decades of service, he's seen the damage space heaters can cause.
"Getting too close to combustibles, too many of them, using them with extension cords that can't handle that extra amperage," he says.
It's a serious matter because on average seven people die every day from a house fire, according the American Red Cross.
The best offense is a good defense, such as working smoke detectors with working batteries.
"Smoke detectors that are 10 years or older, throw them away. Put a new one up. It might just save your life or a family member or a loved one's life," says Patrick Horan, of the American Red Cross.
The Sound the Alarm effort by the American Red Cross used to install smoke alarms for free, but COVID-19 has suspended that initiative for the time being.
The pandemic is also limiting the way city of Poughkeepsie's fire department inspects multifamily homes.