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Keeping your home warm in the winter can set fire to other issues

Firefighters in Thousand Oaks monitor a house fully engulfed by fire.
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
House fires increase in the winter.

With consistent cold weather, space heaters and other strategies to warm your home can put it at risk for a fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there is an increased risk of house fires during the winter. And house fires can create another problem for nearby residents.

“Some of these recent fires that we’ve had in Colorado and California burn through cities and when you burn houses, you get very toxic emissions because of the building materials,” said Shane Murphy, an air quality researcher at the University of Wyoming. “That is actually a whole other field of study that people are just starting to look into really. What are those emissions made out of, what’s in there, how bad is it for you.”

Emissions from house fires contribute to pollution and can negatively impact air quality close by. If there is a house fire in your neighborhood, air filters can help improve the air quality in your home.

“There are now relatively inexpensive ways to filter the air in your house. You can buy a good $100 air filter or you can actually build one out of a box fan,” Murphy said.

To prevent house fires, it is recommended to keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heat sources like fire places. The U.S. Fire Administration also recommends testing smoke detectors once a month.

Sage Montana is from Parker, Colorado but has been residing in Laramie for the past five years while attending the University of Wyoming. She is pursuing a dual degree in chemistry and communication with a minor in professional writing. After graduating in the spring, Sage plans to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate in analytical chemistry. She has had an internship in biochemical journalism in the past and is excited to continue working in science news. Outside of school and work, she likes to crochet!
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