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2011 Press Releases


Tips and Free Brochures to Help Minimize the Threat of Winter Fires

Warwick, RI - February 8, 2011 – For much of the country, this winter has been one of the coldest and snowiest winters in decades – and it doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. During the cold weather, staying warm and protecting your home from freezing weather can be a real challenge for some. Many may turn to alternative heating devices to provide supplementary heat and lower overall heating costs. However, these sources, while less expensive, can be a significant cause of fire each winter.

“Fire departments and organizations such as the American Red Cross are at their busiest during the winter,” said Mike Convery, vice president and chief claim officer for MetLife Auto & Home®. “Alternative heating devices, such as a space heater or wood stove, can help a household save money, but they also increase the likelihood of a home fire occurring, if used improperly.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires account for approximately one-in-five home fires, resulting in billions of dollars in property damage, as well as thousands of injuries and deaths. Space heaters can be especially dangerous. After fireplaces and chimneys, they are the second most common heat source implicated in fires and are involved in more than 80 percent of home heating fires that result in death.

“The fact is many fires are preventable, if the proper precautions are taken,” said Convery. “More than half of the deaths associated with home heating fires were caused by placing combustibles too close to a heat source. To help avoid a tragedy, review the basics of fire safety. It only takes a few minutes and it could save a life.”

Fireplace, Wood-stove, and Space Heater Safety Tips

  • Keep a tight-fitting screen on your fireplace and obtain a professional inspection annually. Also, have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to remove any debris.
  • If you have a wood-burning stove, make sure there is ample clearance between the stove and any combustible materials. Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood, and dispose of the ashes in a closed metal container outside the house.
  • Do not burn trash in the stove — this can start a chimney fire. Also, never burn charcoal indoors, because it can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Use space heaters only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home's heating system.
  • With any type of heater, such as an electric space heater or portable kerosene heater, use common sense. Always keep the heater at least three feet away from flammables and never place a heater in a bathroom or other area where it may come in contact with water.
  • Inspect the heaters cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
  • If you have a liquid-fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool down before adding fuel.

For additional information on fire safety, MetLife Auto & Home is offering free fire safety materials, including a coloring and activity book entitled “Learn About Fire Safety with the PEANUTSTM Gang” and a fire safety brochure entitled “About…Fire Safety.” They are available by calling 1-800-608-0190.

MetLife Auto & Home is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the U.S. and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. For more information, please visit



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