AFD Issues Home Heating Safety Tips

With the temperature decreasing and the Winter season approaching, fire danger increases with heating our homes. Fireplaces, woodstoves and portable heaters are just a few examples.

Each year during this time, fires injure 2,600 people and cause over $930 million in damage in the U.S. alone. It is also important to remember that carbon monoxide poisonings increase during the Fall and Winter season. Safety precautions are listed below. Please remind the public with these helpful tips.

Fireplaces and woodstoves
• Have a certified chimney sweep clean and inspect your chimney and fireplace or creosote build-up, cracks, crumbling bricks and obstructions.

• Place fireplace or wood stove ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least 3 ft away from anything that can burn.

Portable heaters -need at least 3 ft of empty space between the heater and everything else like furniture, curtains, papers and people

• Make sure the heater is UL approved and has a tip-over shut off function.

• Check the cord and make sure it is not frayed. If frayed, it is time for a new heater.

• Never use extension cords with portable heaters. It is a common cause of fire.

• An Adult must always be present when a space heater is used around children.

• ALWAYS turn off portable heaters when family members leave the house or are sleeping.

Candles and Luminarias
• Never place a burning candle or luminaria near anything that can quickly ignite, such as curtains, Christmas trees, brush, etc.

• Always keep candles and luminaries away from children and pets as they could get burned if touched.

• Never place candles or luminaries on combustible surfaces such as wood porches or near dry grass or leaves.

• Never light luminaries during windy conditions where the bag can be ignited and burning debris could spread the fire.

• Keep candles and luminaries away from other decorations.

• Be sure candles have sturdy/stable bases and are placed where they can not be bumped or brushed against.

• ALWAYS monitor candles and luminaries when burning, never leave the room or go to bed without fully extinguishing the flame.

Smoke Alarms
Working smoke alarms alert you to a fire and more than double your chances of surviving a fire.

• Install smoke alarms in every home, on every level, outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.

• Test your smoke alarms each month to make sure they are working.

• Replace batteries twice a year when daylight savings occurs.

• Replace smoke alarms every ten years or sooner if broken.

• When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast!

Have an Escape Plan -It is essential to have an escape plan. It could mean life or death.

• Plan your escape- know two ways out of every room

• Have a “safe” spot that everyone meets at across the street.

• Practice at least once a month so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur.

Carbon Monoxide

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, you can be overcome by CO without any warning. Carbon monoxide is created by any type of burned fuel- oil, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood or charcoal. All of these non-electric appliances produce CO: furnaces, hot water heaters, stoves, space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves. A car idling in an attached garage creates CO that can seep into the house.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. These symptoms are often mistaken for the flu. If the above symptoms decline when removed from the home and increase when returned, go to a doctor immediately. Here are some important tips to prevent CO poisoning:

• Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

• When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the American Gas Association or Underwriters' Laboratories.

• Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.

• Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.