LAKE COUNTY — With winter weather in full swing, fire dangers are escalated. Yates Township Fire Chief John Barnett offers safety tips to help Lake County residents have a safer holiday experience and winter season.

People are wasting no time decorating for the Christmas season, but Barnett warns people to use extra care.

“When people leave their Christmas tree lights on all night, this can cause a structure fire,” he said. “Lights can become shorted out. Never go to bed without turning Christmas tree lights out, or decorations with bulbs. These should also be shut off if you are leaving home for a while.”

Barnett said Christmas trees need to be watered frequently, as well.

“There are precautions which should be taken with holiday cooking and baking,” he said. “Never leave something cooking on the stove or in the oven, even if you are off in another room on the phone. Turn the stove off, if possible.”

Barnett also gave tips for the whole winter season, including:

• Don’t overuse extension cords for devices such as TVs, lights, heaters, etc.

“Cords are not made for all these devices at once. They will short out and can start a fire,” he said.

• Do not keep clothes, newspapers or any other items close to a wood burner. He encourages people to give a second thought to getting a wood burner and suggests a pellet stove instead, saying pellet stoves are much safer.

• If a person has a wood stove, clean the chimney every couple months in the winter at least. Cleaning it in the fall is not enough, he said.

• Keep leaves out of gutters. Flying embers from the chimney could start a fire.

• Make sure chimneys don’t have cracks, which heat and flames can seep through and burn the wood around it.

• Clean the lint out of the dryer vent after each time drying clothes, and clean out the dryer vent that goes through the wall to the outside.

• Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

• Have a safety plan in place in case there is a fire, and a place for family members to meet outside if their home catches fire.

“Sometimes it is too hard for people to afford propane in the wintertime, and they use electric stoves and have fans blow the heat down hallways. This is a fire danger,” Barnett said. “Electricity in homes are not set up for this, and the electrical can melt and cause structure fires, sometimes causing death.”

Barnett added the Yates Fire Department is raising money for the fire department auxiliary by selling fire extinguishers to the public.

“Fire extinguishers could save your property or your life,” he said. “They can be used in a small stove or electric fire, but you don’t want to believe you are firefighters, and don’t hesitate to call 911 and get you, your family and animals out of the house. A fire extinguisher should be kept in occupied bedrooms and near the kitchen area and utility room.”

Barnett said the department will instruct people how to use the fire extinguishers.

For more information, contact Barnett at (231) 598-0850.