Huntsville firefighters: fire risk increases this time of year

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Any house fire can easily become dangerous, and firefighters say nationwide more fires happen in the winter months.

Huntsville fire crews have responded to several in just the past few days, including one that claimed a man's life.

"It's the worst call we can get, when somebody who is actually [trapped] in a home," said Captain Frank McKenzie, Public Information Officer for Huntsville Fire & Rescue.

While the cause of the fires is under investigation, McKenzie said there are several reasons why this time of year, risk increases. He cautions you to do what you can to fireproof your home and review your family safety plan.

First, Christmas tree fires can ignite quickly, he said.

"In less than a minute, you can go from nothing, to you can't see your hand in front of your face. It's that quick," he explained.

He suggests keeping live Christmas trees well hydrated, and placed away from the exits in the room to keep the path clear if something goes wrong. Also, he recommends taking a look at the lights you're using.

"Be aware of how many strands of lights you can put together. You don't want to use extension cords for a long period of time," he explained.

Other holiday decoration and lighting safety tips can be found by clicking this link.

McKenzie says cooking fires are a big culprit, nationwide. He said it's common that something on the stove could ignite and spread quickly if left unattended. These other tips can help you prevent those in your own kitchen.

Heaters can also cause fires during winter months.

"Make sure you have a three-foot area around those things, and tip-over protection," warned McKenzie. "If you have pets or children, keep the heaters away from their area."

He said it's a good idea to examine your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they're working, and update your family safety plan. The last thing firefighters want is more victims.

"Especially if you have small kids or elderly people or disabled people in your home," he said, "take that extra time to make that plan to make sure you have them taken care of, you've got a way out of your home, and you've fireproofed your home as much as possible."