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Preventing wintertime house fires

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Albany/HV: Preventing wintertime house fires
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Same story, different year. It gets cold and we turn on the heat. But each year, the same tragedy burns homeowners who fail to respect basic fire safety precautions. Our Erin Vannella reports.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "Anything that burns actual combustion requires more maintenance, but nothing is a set it and forget it proposition," said Family Danz HVAC Service Technician Jim McDonald.

McDonald is servicing a furnace. It's an annual check-up that could do more than to keep a family warm.

"The old adage of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure totally applies to the heating plant in your home," said McDonald

We see them every year, fires that start from an unswept chimney, an unattended heater or dusty furnace. Seasonal tragedies fire officials say are easy to avoid.

"We see more fires for the fact that we have Christmas trees in our homes, kerosene heaters, space heaters, electric heaters," said Albany Fire Chief Robert Forezzi. "These are all fine as long as you follow the manufacturers' recommendations and you use common sense."

So schedule a tune-up. Keep anything flammable at least three feet from open flames. Water your Christmas tree and turn off the lights when you leave the house.

"Each bedroom should have its own smoke detector and outside the bedroom as well," said McDonald. "Carbon monoxide detectors should be on the same floor as your boilers and your propane tanks."

They're easy precautions that may be just as easy to overlook. With too many holiday distractions, McDonald says do yourself a favor and ask for help.

"Starting to hear things that don't sound right? Have a radiator that doesn't warm up? Now is the time to call," said McDonald. "Don't wait ‘til the middle of January, but if you do wait, we'll be there."

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