Now that cold winter weather has settled over southern Manitoba, the use of heating appliances will increase.

Greg Zimmerman, Fire Chief for Altona/Rhineland Emergency Services, says this is a good time to revisit safety practices as we adjust to life in the deep freeze.

"When we're cooking that big dinner, you should try and stay in the kitchen. When you're cooking anything on the stovetop, do not leave it unattended. That's where your stovetop fires start," said Zimmerman. "And if you have space heaters or anything as the weather gets cold, keep things at a distance of about three feet away from any heating appliances or electrical appliances. Whatever is making the heat, then you gotta have that nice clear space around it.”

It’s also important not to overload electrical outlets.

“When you're plugging in space heaters or block heaters for cars, you should never plug in more than one space heater or one block heater per electrical outlet. That would mean you'd need to know your electrical system because sometimes you have multiple plugs on a single system. You only want to plug one heavy-duty appliance - like a big draw for electricity - into one circuit at the time.”

For homeowners with fireplaces, Zimmerman recommends having the chimney cleaned regularly by a qualified professional, inspecting vents and the firebox to ensure they’re operating properly and placing a screen in front of the fireplace to keep embers from escaping.


Written by Candace Derksen/Terry Klippenstein