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Safety Tips: Winter Fires

Even though we live in the South, winter fires do happen  Just ask my neighbor Ms. Barron.  It was a cold January night about 25 degrees, an unusual temperature for Houston but it does happen once in a while.   Ms. Barron had a faulty electrical event in her garage.  The fire started in her garage spreading to her vehicles and then the back of the home before she realized her house was on fire at 2am when she had been asleep.   I never imagined how fast a fire can travel.  It was all caught on my surveillance camera and the firemen confirmed that a fire triples a second.  Luckily Ms. Barron was not hurt but her home was destroyed sadly.  

More fires occur during the winter months than at any other time. Fortunately, taking simple precautions can prevent most fires. Follow the safety tips 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.

Generators
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.

Candles

  • 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 Alarms and Home Escape Plans

  • Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.
  • Install fire monitoring sensors throughout your home which signals to the fire department.
  • Test 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.
  • 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.

from usa.gov

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