Firefighters Offer Winter Home Safety Tips
Check fireplaces, tree lights and smoke detectors.
Local firefighters have offered the following tips on having a safe winter:
Check your fireplace. Have it professionally cleaned at least once a year, more often if it is used frequently. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
Keep a metal or glass screen in front of the fireplace opening to keep sparks and embers from jumping out on to the floor surface.
Be sure that a fire is out before retiring for the evening. Do not close the damper if there are hot ashes in the fireplace; a closed damper can reheat the fire and force carbon monoxide into the house.
Do not place ashes in combustible containers. Store the correct container outdoors and away from any weeds or structures.
When choosing a Christmas tree: Choose a fresh one. Look for one that is deep green in color and has needles that do not fall off easily. Keep the tree outdoors and in water until you are ready to set it up. Remove the tree from your home if it shows signs of drying out. An artificial tree should be checked to ensure that it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
The tree should be placed in a cool area, away from any heat sources. Do not place a tree where it can block escape from a fire or other emergency. Place the tree in a stand that holds a gallon of water or more, if possible.
Check your Christmas tree lights before using them. They should have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Replace sets that are worn or have loose connections. Unplug all lights before going to sleep or leaving the house.
State law requires working smoke detectors on each level of your home. If you have a fresh tree, install a smoke detector in the room where the tree is located. Test your smoke detectors monthly. If they are battery-operated, change the batteries yearly.
There should be at least one detector on each level of your home, including the basement.
After a party, check your furniture for smoldering cigarettes. Empty all ashtrays into a metal container.
When shoveling snow, remove snow from around any fire hydrants in front of your home.
Children should be taught to stay away from heaters, stoves, candles and fireplaces.
Install a smoke detector in every room where candles are burned. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there has been an increase in candle-caused fires. Most of these fires started when burning candles were left unattended or placed near flammable objects and materials such as window treatments.
Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen; cooking is the largest single cause of home fires. Plan ahead! Have an emergency exit drill in place. Review and practice it with your family. Establish a meeting place outside the house so you can account for everyone in case of emergency.