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Be careful out there. It's getting darker. The dark is coming earlier in the afternoon and lasting until later in the morning.

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Letty Eileen Cole, 93, died on Oct. 15, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Susan Marie Mallott Patrick, 58, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Daniel Edward Hines, 47, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Juneau after a nine-month battle with brain cancer.
11/1/2013
Winter heating

While Ketchikan has had a mild fall, there's no way to spring except through winter.

Winter is approaching, and with it, it's time for discussions of ways to heat our homes and cut down on heating costs.

The State Fire Marshal is being proactive in issuing a caution in regard to alternative fuels; they can be dangerous.

Undoubtedly, the winter heating bills will be higher than any other time of the year. Heating oil, propane, natural gas and electricity are commonly used fuels, but with costs being what they are, Alaskans are beginning, if they haven't already, to turn to woodstoves.

New technology has improved the stoves' efficiency and safety, but still, improper use and failing to follow manufacturer guidelines can lead to unsafe situations.

Long-time woodstove users know that dry, seasoned wood will prevent the buildup of creosote in a chimney, which will cause fires.

The marshal makes some common-sense suggestions, which even when we think we're aware, sometimes we can forget, especially during busy times.

He says combustibles should be at least 36 inches away from heat sources; matches and lighters should be stored out of children's reach (curious kids might like to mimic parents in starting a fire when parents aren't around); clean and inspect chimney regulary during the heating season; and check all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly.

The best safety procedure is to make a habit of regularly verifying that these and other suggestions are being observed.

To do otherwise could have tragic consequences.