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Be safe during the holiday season

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To the editor:
The recent tragic fire in Citra Marion County has left our community saddened and questioning. How could this happen? We often hear of fires on television or in the newspaper, but we never imagine that one will hit so close to home.
Unfortunately, home is where a fire is most likely to hit. An estimated 66,000 home fires were attributed to heating equipment in 2008, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The cost of these fires, as we have learned, goes far beyond just money and property damage. The cost also includes roughly 480 lives and roughly 1,660 injuries.
While home heating fires are quite prevalent, they are largely preventable. Williston Fire Rescue is encouraging you to not let this tragedy happen to you. With your help, we can reduce the number of home heating fires in Williston and Levy County.
Here are just a few simple ways you can decrease the risk of a heating fire in your home:
Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
Have your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if necessary.
Use a sturdy fireplace screen.
Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home – when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area.
Never use an oven to heat your home.
Williston Fire Rescue would like everyone to have a safe winter and Happy Holidays.
 Working together we can prevent fires.
Danny Wallace
Williston Fire Rescue