Winter Fire Safety Tips for the Home
Winter Fire Safety Tips for the Home
Talladega Fire Rescue Department continues to fight structure fires at an alarming rate. The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of heating. The use of wood-burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and manmade logs. These methods of heating are acceptable and their usage are factors in residential fires. However, with precautions, these fires can be prevented. Please follow these tips during the winter season.
- Furnace inspected prior to usage by a licensed professional.
- Emergency shutoffs and controls work properly as determined by a qualified professional.
- Check the pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may indicate a leak. Deadly carbon monoxide may be escaping into your home.
- Change furnace filters on a regular basis.
- Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
- Wood stoves and fireplaces are common heat sources in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.
- Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly. Woodstoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
- Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
- Chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary especially if it has not been used for some time.
- Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
- Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
- Never burn charcoal inside. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
- Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is extinguished. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the home.
- If synthetic logs are used follow directions on package. NEVER break synthetic logs apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They burn unevenly, releasing high levels of carbon monoxide.
- Never discard hot ashes inside or near home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the home.
- Never use a gas range or an oven to heat your kitchen. Any unvented fuel burning appliance is capable of producing deadly levels of carbon monoxide.
- Don't leave lit oven doors open. Children could burn themselves on the heating elements.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case it is tipped over.
- Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, propane) can produce deadly fumes.
- Use ONLY fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Using the wrong fuel can cause a heater to malfunction.
- Keep kerosene and other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers in a ventilated storage area outside of the home.
- Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors). Keep young children away from space heaters—especially if they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
- If you are using an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit.
- Extension cords are for TEMPORARY USE ONLY. When not in use UNPLUG it.
- Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
- Be sure to allow at least 36” between the space heater and combustible materials.
- Make sure you turn the space heater off before you go to bed.
Other Fire Safety Tips
- Frozen pipes? Don't try to thaw pipes with a blowtorch or other open flames. Use hot water or a UL labeled device for thawing; otherwise a fire could be the result.
- Be sure each level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
- Make sure you change battery in your smoke alarms at least twice a year.
- The life expectancy of a smoke alarm is approximately ten years.
- Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
Contact the Talladega Fire Rescue Department at (256) 362-3149 for additional questions or concerns.
REMEMBER: FIRES START WHEN YOUR ATTENTION STOPS!!!