Editorial: A tragic reminder

The tragic deaths of two women in two separate house fires in as many weeks in Langley, once again underscores the need to exercise extreme caution during the ongoing cold snap — and all winter long.

Although no definite cause has been determined in either case, in the first fire, which happened in a four-plex on Old Yale Road on Nov. 28, appears to been started by either a space heater or a power bar failure.

In the second instance, firefighters said that while they don’t know whether the home had a working smoke detector, they did not hear an alarm going off in the house when they arrived.

But in both cases, someone lost their life, and this holiday season is going to be a tremendously difficult one for the people they left behind.

Of course, tragedy can never be completely avoided and we may never know whether these women’s deaths could have been prevented, but there are steps we can and should all take to minimize the risk of yet another fatality or serious injury.

Whether it’s space heaters, fireplaces or candles, sources of heat are also potential sources of danger if they’re not handled with the level of care and respect they’re due.

Fireplaces — whether gas or wood-burning — require regular, professional maintenance to ensure they are in proper and safe working order.

Space heaters, meanwhile, should only be plugged directly into a wall outlet, never into a power bar.

There should also be a minimum three feet of space between the heater and any combustible materials.

Every home should, of course, have at the very minimum at least one working smoke detector — ideally, one in every area of the house where people sleep — with fresh batteries installed each autumn.

And burning candles — which many people love to place throughout their homes at Christmastime — should never be left unattended.

This is simple advice and we hear it all the time, but in the wake of such tragedy, perhaps it bears repeating.

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