Thanks for this great information from Tia Rancourt, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District as part of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team: Winter is here and that means more family and friend gatherings inside the home. Whether in the kitchen, near the fireplace or stove it’s always a good idea to brush up on home safety tips.
Before we gather around the fireplace or stove, remember these important safety tips:
- Have a qualified professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys.
- Stoves should have the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
- Have your chimney and stove inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep every fall just before heating season.
- Clean the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush.
- Keep a close eye on children whenever a wood or pellet stove is being used. Remind them to stay at least three feet away from the stove.
- Stoves need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the stove.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect the alarms. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Allow ashes to completely cool before disposing them. Place ashes in a covered metal container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings.
No matter what type of device you use to heat your home, making sure that your heating devices and systems are in good working order is important. Many things can go wrong with heating equipment. Verify that everything you need to keep your home warm throughout the fall and winter months is in good working order.
General Home Heating Safety Tips:
- Get your central heating system cleaned, inspected and serviced by a certified 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.
- 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.
Family Fire Safety Tips:
- 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.
- 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 leave lit candles unattended or place them where children can reach them. 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.
Holiday Safety Tips:
- Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini lights sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
It’s a good idea to review fire prevention and safety tips with your family in the fall and throughout the year. Visit www.nfpa.org for more fire safety information.