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How to keep your family safe if fire breaks out

In the wake of Friday's fire in Tyler that claimed the lives of three family members, the Tyler Fire Marshal's Office has some tips on how to stay safe when heating your home.

TYLER, Texas — Last Friday, three family members were killed in a house fire in Tyler. Two more people died Tuesday morning in another fire in Smith County.

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Though winter may not stick around for much longer, cold weather can still be dangerous outside as well as inside.

For those who try to keep warm inside with space heaters or fireplaces, there are important things to keep in mind will help keep you and your family safe.

First, it is important to ensure there is space for the heat source. This is especially true with flammable objects like curtains.

First make sure there is plenty of space around your heat source.

“Whether it’s a fire place or space heater, both need space," Paul Findley of the Tyler Fire Department said. "Three feet of clear space in front of those items so things won’t burn.”

It is important to always have an eye on the heat source. Never leave a heater or fireplace unattended and on, especially with children or pets inside.

This is also true in the office, where items in a tight space can easily catch fire.

For those who have fireplaces, it is imperative to clean it regularly. If a fireplace is not cleaned, buildup in the chimney can easily spark a dangerous fire.

“If you really don’t know the last time you had your fireplace cleaned, now would probably be a good time to do that,” Findley said.

Findley also says large appliances should only be plugged into the wall directly. Do not use an extension cord or power strip.

“You would be surprised how many fires we go on that it’s an air conditioner or a heater that’s plugged into an extensions cord that’s nowhere near big enough to handle that amount of juice/energy that’s running through it,” Findley said.

Perhaps as important as anything is being prepared for the worst.

People should have an escape plan and practice that plan to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of a fire. 

It is also important to have a place to meet once you and your family get outside.