Fire safety precautions in Iowa, guidelines for the winter months

Fires have been keeping subway crews busy lately. As the weather turns cold and risks rise, here’s what first responders recommend to keep Iowans safe.

DES MOINES, Iowa — With at least eight fires reported in Iowa over the past week, State Fire Marshal Dan Wood said now is a critical time of year for fire safety for both residents and firefighters.

“You run into a lot of different heating issues this time of year, whether it’s propane or natural gas,” Wood said. “You know, people who don’t care about their systems or systems are older.”

Fires, some fatal, have ravaged Iowa in recent days. Four children died Wednesday after a fire in Mason City, a building fire raged in West Des Moines late Tuesday and another engulfed a historic Sherman Hill home early Wednesday morning.

Cold weather and searing flames can be a deadly combination for firefighters, according to Aaron Kreuder, the Bondurant Fire Department’s chief of emergency services.

“You have concerns about hypothermia. People don’t realize that you’re going into a really hot environment and you’re putting out a fire inside the structure,” Kreuder said. “You raise your body temperature, you sweat, you get out and, you know, you’re in the potentially negative degrees relatively quickly.”

He said that’s why it’s important to clear the snow for sidewalks and fire hydrants, as the cold temperatures could affect water supplies.

“We have to get to those hydrants and pump those hydrants, especially if it’s a big fire,” Kreuder said.

Wood also wants residents to know that it’s not just the outside of your home that needs to be clear to ensure firefighters can do their job most effectively.

“Inside and outside, you know, without blocking them. And even windows…sometimes people need to be rescued or escape through their windows too, so make those windows accessible,” Wood said.

Kreuder explained that in the event of a fire in your home or apartment, it’s crucial for everyone involved to have a designated meeting point for first responders where they can all find them.

It’s also helpful to make it clear before first responders arrive that all residents and pets have evacuated the home.

RELATED: Here’s how you can donate to the family who lost their son in the Walcott fire

Local 5 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Download the apps today for live news broadcasts and video-on-demand.