Tahoe chief’s corner: Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide safety | SierraSun.com

Tahoe chief’s corner: Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide safety

Mike Brown
Special to the Bonanza
Mike Brown

With Fire Prevention Week activities in full swing during the next few weeks at our main fire station, we would like to take this opportunity to remind folks about the importance of having working smoke alarms in the home and testing them monthly.

Working smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire. That’s the message behind this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Hear the BEEP where you SLEEP. Every bedroom needs a working smoke detector.”

Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.

Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms to provide enough protection. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.

Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally, they should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from a cooking appliance.

Remember to test your smoke alarms once a month, change the batteries twice a year and replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Another important home safety device is a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas (created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane burn incompletely).

In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.

When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation. Never use your oven to heat your home.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips:

CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.

Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call 911 to respond the fire district to ensure it working properly and there is no problem.

If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call 911 from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.

If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.

During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.

A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.

Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO – only use them outside.

For more information visit http://www.nfpa.org.

“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.