Story last updated at 2:38 p.m. Thursday, December 5, 2002

Home fire safety always in season
A fatal weekend fire on a boat in the Homer Harbor is a good reminder of the dangers awaiting the unsuspecting and unaware, particularly as winter closes in.

Fire safety advice has become almost seasonal background noise. But just because something is oft-repeated doesn't make it irrelevant, especially in a state that leads the nation in per capita fire fatalities.

Perhaps the first and best line of defense against fire in the home is a working smoke detector. Firefighting agencies advise that batteries should be changed twice a year -- at the same time clocks are changed, for ease of remembering to do it.

Chimneys and smokestacks should be checked and cleaned at least yearly, depending on frequency of use. The Homer Volunteer Fire Department loans out a chimney brush free of charge. Call 235-3155 to reserve it, or for any fire safety advice.

Once chimneys are cleaned and smoke detector batteries are replaced, families should remember E.D.I.T.H. -- exit drills in the home. All family members should be aware of an evacuation plan in the event of a house fire, and that plan should be practiced.

Carbon monoxide detectors are also a good idea. The $50 or so it costs to buy one is a small price to pay for the security of knowing that an otherwise invisible, odorless and deadly intruder will not go undetected.

As the colder weather sets in, it is important, as well, to remember not to leave portable space heaters in places that compromise safety. Heaters should be kept away from bedding and other flammable materials.

Christmas lights also pose a potential hazard, indoors and out. Extension cords should never be overloaded, and all lights and candles should be extinguished before leaving the home.

Any house fire is tragic. Fatalities compound the tragedy. Take the time now to ensure that your family and property is as safe and protected as it can be. This will help keep the holiday season filled with nothing but good cheer.