Colder temperatures increase fire danger, protect your home and family

- With temperatures expected to dip below the freezing point tonight, for the first time this season, Houston fire officials say the cooler temperatures will increase the threat of home fires.

Houston Fire Department Senior Captain Ruy Lozano says you should never place a space heater on top of a heat source, like a rug, or within three feet of other objects.

"When you have natural oxygen in the air, you have a heat source and a combustible product, you just completed the fire triangle where a potential fire can easily occur."

Lozano says throw blankets can be dangerous if left around a heat source because of their flammability.

"Many throws are brought in from other country's that don't have the same fire rating requirements that we have here in the states."

And he says you should invest in surge protectors, especially if you have an older home or apartment. 

"If you overload this circuit for any reason... it's going to trip, it's going to turn itself off and you'll have to reset it to use it."

That cuts the power and prevents the outlet from becoming overloaded, which can cause a fire.

And don't forget to scoop the lint from your dryer's filter. It takes only a few seconds to do.

"All of this is flammable and if you have a seat source and flammable lint, it's the perfect storm for a fire," said Lozano.

Can you guess the number one culprit of house and apartment fires? Lozano says it's leaving food on the stove, unattended.

With more folks cooking during the holiday season, Lozano says you shouldn't step away for even a minute.

"You might get a phone call, get on your cell phone and that minute might translate into almost an hour," said Lozano.

Leaving pots and pans unattended is especially dangerous for children.

And he says you should never use your conventional oven for heating your home because it significantly increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Carbon monoxide is such an ungentle gas, you don't smell it, you don't see it, you don't even realize you're being affected until it's too late, so it's really a silent killer," said Lozano.

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