By Erica Thomas, managing editor
PINSON — The cooler temperatures always have a way of heating up things for local fire departments.
Center Point Fire District responded to a call Saturday from a homeowner concerned after they started a fire in their fireplace. Chief Gene Coleman said the call was a false alarm and no fires have been reported so far, but he is expecting more calls if residents do not heed the warning.
“As we move into the winter months, the cooler months, many things produce heat to keep us warm,” said Coleman. “If we can prevent one injury or death, all of the hours of work are worth every second.”
Fireplaces that have not been swept and furnaces that have not been inspected are two causes of house fires in the winter that are preventable. Space heaters also pose specific dangers and can cause serious injury or death.
For all heating devices, it is important to remember to clear the area around the device. This includes blankets, curtains, toys and furniture. Also, keep children away from fireplaces, furnaces and space heaters. Items should be kept at least three feet from the source.
Fire and smoke are not the only dangers that come along with heating. Carbon monoxide, known as the invisible killer, can seep out of your heating source that uses fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, etc. Coleman suggests changing the batteries to your carbon monoxide detectors and to your smoke detectors when the time changes in the fall and spring.
As winter nears, you may want to snuggle up in front of the fireplace and enjoy the heat from the fire. But before you light a match, be sure to take the proper precautions to protect your home, your family and your local firefighters.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), homeowners should have their chimney inspected on an annual basis. Clean chimneys do not catch on fire. A buildup of debris can catch fire inside of the chimney and many times will go undetected. If that happens, it can cause serious damage to the chimney and the surrounding structure.
Chimney fires can also be explosive and dramatic. Some begin with a loud rumbling sound, similar to that of a freight train or low-flying airplane.
Homeowners should take furnace safety very seriously. Experts recommend an annual inspection and maintenance appointment with a qualified contractor.
Make sure items are not covering or blocking your heating system vents. Also, change your air filter regularly in order to keep debris out of the system.
If you hear an unusual sound or smell an unusual odor, you should report the issue to a repair professional immediately.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges users of portable heaters to pay attention to safety. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries are caused by portable heating equipment each year in the U.S.
Fire and electrical shock are the most common causes of injuries from space heaters. NFPA says it is extremely important to ensure the device is plugged in properly and not plugged into an extension cord or power strip. Also, check for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. Read all manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before use of a space heater.
Always turn off a space heater before leaving the area or going to sleep. Also, locate space heaters out of high-traffic areas and doorways. Space heaters should be placed on level, flat surfaces only and not on carpet. Never place a portable heater of any kind inside a cabinet or on furniture.Winter Fire Safety