Don’t let your holiday season by ruined by a preventable tragedy –
Home fires occur when using dangerous heating equipment or unsafe practices. Before you nestle in for the winter, there are critical things you need to do to keep your family not only warm, but safe.The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit Chief Nancy Koerperich would like to remind the public of the importance of annually inspecting home heating equipment. Below are some important safety tips to keep your home and family safe and warm.
1. When was the last time your flue was cleaned?
Chimney sweep vendors in your area can be found on the internet and in the yellow pages of the local phone book under “chimney cleaning”. Flue brushes can be rented from local vendors for a minimal charge.
2. Inspect all home heating units for obstructions and operation.
Clean duct openings check the floor grills and wall furnace heating grills for obstructions that may have been left there during the summer.
3. Check all gas appliances.
Hundreds of people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas. To prevent your chances of becoming a statistic, gas appliance lines and vents must be checked for obstructions, leaks and wear or damage. Now is a good time to change the battery in your carbon monoxide alarm or purchase and Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
Any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential source of carbon monoxide. If you suspect that you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately. If possible, open all windows and doors to increase ventilation, turn off combustion appliance(s), and exit the house. If you ignore the gas leak you could lose consciousness and die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.
4. Use Fireplace safely.
Use only clean seasoned firewood. Do not burn paper or cardboard in the fireplace. Keep a metal or glass screen over the fireplace opening to prevent sparks from igniting flooring in front of the fireplace. Check the condition of your (1/2″ mesh) screen on top of your chimney or stove pipe to ensure sparks will not escape and ignite your roof. Fireplace ashes can be hot for a week or more and should be disposed of with extreme care. A metal pail or bucket should be used to remove the ashes from the home. After the ashes are outside, they should be mixed with water in the bucket and left well away from any combustibles.
5. Portable heaters pose many dangers.
Fuel fired heaters (usually kerosene) are illegal for use in California because they may deplete the oxygen supply in the home and cause asphyxiation. Portable electric heaters can cause fires when they come in contact with combustibles, such as towels, curtains, bed linens, toys, etc. Keep heaters at least three feet from any combustible material. Free standing heaters should have a “tip over” shut off switch.
Never leave a burning candle unattended. Always keep candles away from children. Keep your candles away from decorations, pets, bedding, and curtains. Never place your candle on any type of cloth, doily, or wood. Place candles on a metal surface or container. Never use a candle near a tree or as a decoration on a tree. Always extinguish any flame before you go to sleep at night or leave your home.
Poorly maintained heating devices have caused many fires in the past. Please take a few minutes to check your heater, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and practice your fire escape plan, to insure your families’ safety.