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Fire, space heater tips for Chicagoans battling 13-below weather

While Chicagoans weather 13-degree-below weather today on Mon., Jan. 6, fire safety and carbon monoxide detectors should also be on the minds of those staying put inside. For residents who don't have proper heat in their homes, this should be reported immediately.

A utility-type DeLonghi space heater lies on display at a Lowe's home improvement store January 25, 2006 in Lincolnwood, Ill.
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The City of Chicago Heat Ordinance requires the temperature inside apartments to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and 66 degrees at night. Landlords face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation, for each day they do not supply adequate heat.

Residents should call their landlord first. Then 311 or their alderman if the heating issue is not resolved.

According to a newsletter released by Ward 49's Alderman Joe Moore, "The City of Chicago experienced 16 deaths due to fire in 2013, the lowest annual total ever recorded."

Twelve of the 16 deaths were from apartment buildings without working smoke detectors.

Summer months continue to receive the highest fire incident reports, with July leading the pack, but with today's weather, many residents may be more likely to use space heaters.

Space heaters may also lead to danger if not used properly. Tips from the U.S. Fire Administration when using space heaters are:

  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater.
  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

According to the Illinois State Fire Marshall statistics, fire accidents decreased from 2011 to 2013. Fire incidents went from 58,160 in 2011 to 42,538 by Dec. 23 last year.

Property lost from fire were $437,722,691 in 2011 to $356,952,047 in 2013.

The top fire incidents from 2011 to 2013 decreased as well. Comparing 2011 to 2013, the top 10 reasons for fire incidents were:

  • Building a fire (18,103 to 13,402)
  • Cooking fire (6,130 to 5,073)
  • Passenger vehicle fire (6,320 to 4,508)
  • Outside rubbish (4,694 to 3,508)
  • Brush fire (3,339 to 2,197)
  • Fire (2,927 to 2,039)
  • Grass fire (2,059 to 1,179)
  • Outside rubbish fire (1,691 to 1,302)
  • Dumpster fire (1,541 to 1,222)

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