Chief’s Corner: Fall fire safety tips
As summer turns to fall, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory on fall fire safety tips.
Some safety tips are the same regardless of the time of year, but many safety concerns are seasonal, particularly those that involve keeping your home warm.
Time changes mean batter changes: Get in the habit of changing the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors every fall and spring when changing the clocks for daylight-saving time. It is also a good idea to make it standard procedure in your household to verify that all fire extinguishers are fully charged and in working order when you adjust the clocks each season.
Home heating safety: No matter what type of device you use to heat your home, making sure your heating devices and/or systems are in good working order is an important part of learning some fall fire safety tips. Many things can go wrong with heating equipment during the spring and summer months. Verify that everything you need to keep your home warm throughout the fall and winter is in good working order before you experience the first cold snap of the season.
Central heating system safety: Get your central heating system cleaned, inspected and serviced by a certified HVAC (heating, venting and air conditioning) contractor every year before using it. If you have a gas heater, make sure that you have a sufficient quantity of fully functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.
Space heater safety: Make sure space heaters have at least three feet of empty space all around. Never place clothing or any other objects on a space heater to dry. Do not place space heaters near furniture or drapes. Turn space heaters off when leaving the room, house or before going to bed.
Fireplace safety: Get your chimney inspected each year to make sure that it is safe. Hire a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney every fall. Repair any cracks in fireplaces. Use fireplace screens to keep sparks and fire debris inside the fireplace. Do not ever use gasoline to start a fire in the fireplace. Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure that combustible materials are not stored within three feet of your fireplace. For natural gas fireplaces, get all connections and lines inspected before use each season. Remember that outdoor fireplaces can be just as dangerous as indoor units, and observe all safety precautions when using them.
Outdoor fall fire safety: Clear your roof and gutter of unnecessary buildup of debris, such as pine needles and leaves. Learn the outdoor burning regulations in your area, and do not engage in illegal burning of leaves and other outdoor debris.
Outdoor cooking: Natural gas, propane and charcoal fired appliances should always be utilized within manufacturer’s specifications. At no time should these types of appliances be utilized in an in-closed environment for example, house, garage, basement, tent or other environment where off gases of carbon monoxide C0 may be retained creating an unsafe atmosphere.
Family fire safety: Teach your kids how to respond in the event of a fire. Establish and practice a fire escape plan with your family that includes a designated meeting area outside the home. Make sure young children know how to dial 911. Make sure that there is a sufficient quantity of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home, and that they are in working order. Do not place lit candles unattended and where they can be reached by children. Do not leave cooking food unattended on the stove and make sure all flammable items are not near the stove.
There is nothing more important than the safety of your family. Everyone in your home needs to know how to behave responsibly to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a fire.
However, because fires can start at any time without warning, it is also very important that the members of your household know how to react in the event of a fire.
It’s a good idea to review fire prevention and safety tips with your family in the fall and throughout the year. Visit http://www.nfpa.org for more fire safety information.
“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.