With cooler temperatures comes an increased use of heaters and chimneys, and that means a higher risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning; this December here are some safety tips to keep everyone safe through the holidays.
“If you have any of the older homes in town that have space heaters, we want to make sure that there is at least a 3-foot free space around the heaters with nothing flammable that can be set on fire,” Anna Fire Chief Tim Gothard said.
Gothard also recommended that people never leave their electric or space heaters unattended. While residential house fires are rare, he said, calls regarding smoke are all too common.
People will turn on their furnaces for the first time in a while, he said, and the dust that has collected on the coils all summer will burn off, causing smoke.
Another type of call that increases is carbon monoxide detectors going off, because when residents use gas appliances inside it causes carbon monoxide levels to rise, he said.
“People that have garages, they don’t want to crank their cars and warm their cars up in the morning with the garage doors down,” Gothard said. “They want to make sure those garage doors are open and the vapors or fumes can be vented.”
People who have a chimney should have it cleaned and inspected annually to make sure it is in good working condition. If there is a crack in the flue, that could cause flames or sparks to escape the chimney and travel into the attic, Gothard said, and cause a residential fire.
A screen in front of the fireplace is also important, he said. Sparks and embers can travel from the fireplace to the carpet.
For people planning to travel, it’s a good idea to add a travel pack to their list of things to bring.
“Pack a travel pack, maybe some blankets and water in their vehicle,” Gothard said. “I know a few years ago we had a lot of cars stranded out on the highway because we had the big ice storm, and so if you were to be stranded in your car at least you would have blankets to cover up with.”
Another tip is to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly.