EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) - So far in 2013, four people have died in Massachusetts because of house fires started by a woodstove or a fireplace. One of the victims was from here in western Mass.
22News is working for you with information you should know to keep your family safe.
It's a tragedy that we see too often this time of the year.
"You always think it's not going to happen to you, but it could happen to anybody," said John Corley of West Springfield.
More than one third of Americans use fireplaces or woodstoves during the winter months.
While they can be efficient, if forgotten and not maintained properly, they can cause massive house fires.
"A lot of times when it gets cold, people are just burning the pellets, and they need to put another bag in, so they just throw another bag in. You want to make sure that you're keeping your machine nice and clean," said Scott Robbins the manager of Rocky's Ace Hardware in East Longmeadow.
Experts say maintaining your fireplace or your woodstove is easy with items you can find at local hardware stores.
"Creosote Sweeping Log, you use one of these at the beginning of the season and half way through the season and it really gets rid of all the gunk that's built up over there," said Robbins.
Also important are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
All homes with chimneys and woodstoves are required to have carbon monoxide detectors, and each alarm should be within 10 feet of every bedroom door.
"We have the smoke detectors, and when they go off, they know to get to a nearest door. Hopefully when it does happen, one of the parents will be home. If not, I believe they are smart enough to get out of the house," said Glen Douglas of East Longmeadow
Other tips to remember to keep your family safe include:
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening.
- Never burn charcoal inside your house.
- Before you go to sleep, make sure your fireplace fire is out.