Fire Prevention Week 2012 - Tips for Safety

News from Emergency Services, Posted on Tue, 10/09/2012 - 4:09pm

Fire Prevention Week 2012 is October 9th through the 13th

Cattaraugus County Office of Emergency Services staff would like to take the opportunity to remind you of some important fire prevention and safety tips.

It's time to get your furnace ready...

A furnace that is not running at peak performance can be deadly. Carbon Monoxide is a natural product of incomplete combustion. Virtually every gas furnace produces some Carbon Monoxide, which is usually carried away from your home through the furnace's vents to the outside. A clean, efficiently burning gas furnace produces very small amounts of carbon monoxide, while a dirty, inefficiently burning one can produce deadly amounts. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless. It causes flu-like symptoms, disorientation, confusion, and even death.

It is highly recommended that you have your furnace cleaned and checked every year. The older the furnace, the more important this service is. Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected. Older furnaces have no such devices. Over time, furnaces can develop small cracks in the combustion chamber. These cracks may not be visible to the naked eye. It is through these cracks that Carbon Monoxide can leak into your home.

It is also important to change your furnace filter regularly. The filter usually is found just inside the front cover of the furnace. It may have its own access door on the front of the furnace.  A clean filter will help your furnace burn more efficiently, and will help keep dust from being circulated through your home.

Some prefer to heat with wood stoves...

With the increasing natural gas and fuel oil heating costs, many homeowners are turning to wood burning stoves to keep their home warm. Beware, that while you are saving money, you may increase your risk of a home fire.

Fireplaces and wood burning stoves are auxiliary home heating devices that demand care and attention in their purchase, installation, and maintenance. Following these precautions can reduce the possibility of a fire or injury related to their use. Be sure to follow the manufacturers’ directions and the local building codes for proper installation, use, and maintenance of wood burning stoves.

All wood burning stoves and fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected before the heating season begins and frequently throughout the heating season. Make sure the door latch closes properly. Furnaces and water heaters, which have flue pipes, attached to the chimney of a fireplace or wood burning stove should have tight fitting joints and seems. Fireplaces should be equipped with a tight fitting spark screen or enclosed with glass doors to stop sparks from landing on carpet or other nearby combustibles.  Special retaining screens can also keep children and pets at a safe distance from the fire and so reduce the possibility of accidental burns.

The following safety suggestions may help reduce possible dangers:

1.    Burn dry seasoned wood, which produces more heat and also prevents soot (creosote) buildup. Flue vents should be inspected according to manufacturer guidelines, and cleaned as appropriate by a qualified individual.

2.    Keep the area around the heating unit and flue clear. 

3.    Keep a fire extinguisher in a central location (not directly next to the stove or furnace) known to all household members. Be certain that it is in good working order and that everyone knows how to operate it.

4.    Place smoke detectors throughout the house (at least one in the room containing the wood stove) and test regularly.

5.    Other household venting appliances (down draft exhaust fans) can diminish proper venting of your wood stove, causing possible smoke damage. During appliance installation, test all other appliances (bathroom fans, stovetop venting, HVAC units, etc.) to ensure that they don’t interfere with proper stove venting.

6.    Wood stoves should be safety tested and bear a label from a recognized authority such as a testing lab (UL) or building code group (NFPA).

7.    To start a fire in your wood stove; crumple up paper on the stove floor and cover with small kindling. Open the draft/damper FULLY and light. Hold the door slightly ajar for a few minutes and then close tightly. Once the wood is burning brightly, add additional dry seasoned wood to the fire. Use the draft control to adjust the burn rate. NEVER light or rekindle a fire with kerosene, gasoline, or charcoal lighter fluid.

8.    When re-fueling, open the door slowly to prevent smoke spillage.

9.  Store ashes in a non-combustible metal container with a tightly fitted lid. Place the closed container on a non-combustible floor, well away from combustible materials. If ashes are to be buried or otherwise locally dispersed, store in a sealed container until all cinders have cooled.

Links For Parents/ Adults

U.S. Fire Administration - Fire Escape Plans

National Fire Protection Association

Links For Kids

U.S. Fire Administration - Fire Escape Plan Tips for Young Children

Sparky's Fire Prevention Week Activities for Kids

Downloadable Resources:

Home Fire Safety Checklist253.39 KB
Draw Your Fire Escape Route210.11 KB

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