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Originally published: 2012-11-20 09:56:48
Last modified: 2012-11-20 09:57:35

Fire dept. warns of seasonal hazards

by Staff Reports

Fall is here and with it comes cooler weather. November through February every year, fire departments across the country see a rise in home and chimney fires.

The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities had caused many Americans to search for alternate ways to heat their homes. The use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are growing, and space heaters are getting pulled out of storage. While those are acceptable methods of heating homes, heating equipment is also the second leading cause of home fires behind cooking. To help prevent a fire in your home, here are some tips:

— Fireplaces and chimneys: Have your chimney cleaned every year; make sure the damper is able to open fully; always use a screen in front of an open fireplace; never start a fire with gasoline or any other combustible liquid; never burn charcoal in a fireplace (it produces carbon monoxide). 

— Space heaters: Keep three feet of clearance on all sides of the space heater (including furniture, curtains or anything else that could burn); do not use an extension cord with a space heater; turn off heater when you leave the house or go to sleep; inspect the power cord for damage.

— Smoke detectors: Place a smoke detector on every floor and inside every bedroom; verify the smoke detector works; test monthly and change batteries yearly

— Heating devices (furnaces, monitor heaters): Service every year.

Every year, more than 150 die from accidental non-fire related carbon monoxide poisonings. These deaths may come from faulty, improperly installed, misused or vented fuel burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

— Carbon monoxide detectors: Place a carbon monoxide detector on the lowest the level of the house close to any fuel-fired appliance; change batteries yearly.

Holiday cooking concerns

November and December also bring us holidays and holiday cooking. In recent years, deep-frying turkeys has become increasingly popular. Below are some tips to keep you and your family safe this holiday season when deep-frying a turkey.

— Fryers should always be used outdoors on a solid, level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable objects. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.

— Do not overfill the fryer.

— Never leave the fryer unattended. Without a thermostat control, the heater will continue to heat the oil until it catches fire.

— Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for several hours.

— Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and long sleeves to protect from the heat and splatters.

— Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in the fryer.

Cooking is the leading cause of all home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. To practice general cooking safety:

— Do not leave cooking unattended. When cooking on the stove stay in the kitchen at all times; do not leave the house while cooking in the oven. 

—Turn pan handles inward to prevent food spills. Use back burners when possible.

— Create a three-foot “safe zone” around any cooking appliance — that’s three feet clear of anything that can catch fire such as paper towels and free of any children or pets.

— Wear short, close-fitting or tight sleeves when cooking.

— Keep all cooking surfaces clean and free of grease.

— Never cook with charcoal inside the home.