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Monday, January 6, 2014

Use Precaution & Common Sense Operating Heating Systems This Winter!

When we think of portable heaters, we think of convenience and energy savings. We think mostly of keeping warm through those cold winter nights! What we should also be thinking about is that heating fires are a large cause of home fires in the country and many are caused by portable heating devices.

In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $893 million in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires..
Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) of home heating fire deaths.

The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
More fires occur during the winter months than at any other time. Fortunately, taking simple precautions can prevent most fires.

The Tioga Fire Protection and Fire Prevention Blog recommends the following safety tips &  precautions below to help ensure your safety:

Portable Heaters
* Put at least three feet of empty space between the heater and everything else.
* Vacuum and clean the dust and lint from all heaters.
* If the cord gets hot, frayed or cracked, have the heater serviced.
* Never use extension cords with portable electric heaters.
* Turn off portable heaters when leaving or sleeping.
* An adult should always be present when anyone is using a space heater around children.
* Make sure your portable electric heater is UL approved and has a tip-over shut off function.

Woodstove and Fireplace Safety
* Have a certified chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace.
* Place ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least three feet away from anything that burns.
* To prevent flue fires, burn dry, well-seasoned wood.
* Always use a fireplace screen made of sturdy metal or heat-tempered glass. If children are present, use a special child-guard screen.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible killer. You cannot see or smell it. A generator's exhaust contains poisonous CO, which can kill you in a matter of minutes. Follow these important generator safety tips:
* Never use a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed or other partially enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.
* Place portable generators outside only, far away from the home. Keep the generator away from openings to the home, including doors, windows, and vents.
* Read the label on the generator and the owner's manual, and follow the instructions.
* Install CO alarms with battery backup in the home outside each sleeping area.
* Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy. CO poisoning from exposure to generator exhaust can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.
* Be sure generator fuel is properly and safely stored.
* Always refuel the generator outdoors and away from any ignition sources.
* If you choose to have a generator permanently connected to your home's electrical system, make sure a licensed electrician installs it and be sure to notify your electric company.

* Place candles in sturdy, fireproof candleholders where they cannot be knocked over.
* Make sure all candles are out before going to bed or leaving the house.
* Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of children's reach.
* Keep candles away from Christmas trees, evergreen clippings, decorations, presents, and wrapping paper.

Smoke Detectors and Alarms
* Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.
* Test (monthly) and vacuum your smoke alarms each month to make sure they are working.
* Smoke alarms 10 years old or older need to be replaced with new units.

Home Escape Plans
* Know two ways out of every room.
* Practice your escape plan with your whole family at least twice a year.
* Do not attempt to go back into a burning home.

For additional tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

(The usual disclaimers: I am not a journalist; This is a blog that expresses an outlook and is not conclusive in any shape or manner.)

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