In light of the fierce winter weather hitting the North Coast, Astoria Fire Chief Lenard Hansen offered some tips on staying safe.

Be prepared, Hansen said. People should check news and weather updates as well as be stocked with extra food, water and supplies in case they can't leave home for a prolonged time.

To conserve fuel, Hansen suggests people lower the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 at night. And if the power goes out, Hansen said alternative sources of heat should be safe, such as a fireplace with a sturdy metal screen with a supply of wood or a well-vented space heater.

If using a space heater, Hansen said people should be sure to keep them at least three feet from anything that can burn. And he suggests that people should try and use heaters with an automatic shut-off feature.

Gas-fueled heaters should be adequately ventilated, and Hansen said unventilated gas space heaters in bedrooms or bathrooms should be small and well-mounted.

"Never use liquefied-petroleum gas heaters with self-contained fuel supplies in the home," he said.

And Hansen added that all heaters should be shut off when people leave a room or go to sleep.

The same is true for candles, he said.

"Most candle fires start when they are left burning unattended," he said. "Always make sure candles are blown out before leaving home or going to bed."

He said candles should also be kept away from flammable materials, children and pets and placed in a sturdy metal, glass or ceramic candleholder.

The "most important" safety tip, Hansen said is to have working smoke alarms on every level of a home outside each sleeping area and in every bedroom.

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