Fire chief offers tips for safe heating, cooking
|Nov. 29, 2010|
By Eric Madison
Chef, Longmeadow Fire Dept.
LONGMEADOW -- As it occurs every year, the colder seasons are upon us. The past few years have proven difficult for many to heat their homes and this year looks no easier.
In the fire service, high heating costs and a poor economy usually means a busy winter lies ahead for our firefighters. According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, in 2008, Massachusetts had 2,767 fires from heating equipment, resulting in five deaths and injuring twenty-five fire-fighters. Heating equipment is one of the highest causes of fires in the home, second only to cooking fires.
In an effort to help you stay safe and warm this winter, the Longmeadow Fire Department offers the following helpful information to keep you and your family from becoming a statistic for 2010 and 2011.
Cover the ABCs of Fire Safety
&bull Make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level including one outside the bed-rooms.
&bull Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly and change batteries twice a year, when you change the clocks.
&bull Hold home fire drills to practice the home escape plan.
&bull Practice home fire safety and set a good example for the children.
Be Careful With Fireplaces and Stoves
If you heat your home by burning solid fuels such as coal or firewood, pellets, be careful before, during and after using these kinds of fuels.
&bull Have the chimney professionally cleaned every year.
&bull Make sure the stove is approved by a national testing agency such as Underwriter's Laboratory (UL).
&bull Get a building permit before installing a stove.
&bull Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away.
&bull Dispose of the ashes in a metal container, with a lid, away from the house, garage and porch.
Space Heaters Need Space
Fires caused by space heaters are rare, but often deadly. If you must use a space heater, do so safely.
&bull Do not use space heaters as your number one heating source.
&bull Keep anything that can burn three feet away. Use only heavy-duty extension cords.
&bull Always turn off when going to bed or leaving home.
&bull Portable kerosene heaters are illegal in Massachusetts to use in your home.
Maintain Natural Gas Equipment
Natural gas is a safe and efficient way to cook, heat our homes and hot water.
&bull Have your furnace and hot water heater professionally checked every year.
&bull Do not use or store gasoline or painting supplies inside where they can be ignited by the pilot light.
&bull Gas leaks can be dangerous if you smell something like rotten eggs or you think there might be a leak,
&bull Move outdoors.
&bull Do not smoke or turn on or off electrical switches - sparks can cause an explosion.
&bull Dial 911 immediately.
Maintain Oil Heating Equipment
Home heating with fuel oil is also safe and efficient.
&bull Have your furnace professionally cleaned and checked every year.
&bull Don't let the tank get below one-quarter.
&bull If the oil burner releases smoke or soot in the house, call for service.
Carbon Monoxide: the Silent Killer
Heating equipment is the leading source of carbon monoxide (CO) in the home.
&bull Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.
&bull Don't use the gas stove or oven for heat.
&bull Have furnaces and chimneys checked annually by a professional.
&bull Keep appliance vents and exhaust pipes clear of drifting snow and bushes.
&bull Put a lid on a grease fire to smother it, and then turn of the heat. Baking soda is also an effective way to extinguish a grease fire.
&bull Never move a burning pan.
&bull Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire. Water will only spread a grease fire, and a fire extinguisher can splash the grease, spreading the fire.
&bull Stand by your pan! Don't leave food, grease or oils cooking on a stovetop unattended.
&bull Wear short or tight fitting clothes when cooking. Loose fitting clothing can easily catch fire.
&bull If your clothing does catch fire, stop, drop and roll to extinguish the flames.
&bull Keep pot handles turned inward to prevent accidental spills.
&bull Create a three-foot "child free" zone around the stove.
&bull Keep combustible objects such as pot holders, towels, paper and plastic bags away from the stove top.
&bull For fires inside an oven or microwave, keep the door closed, turn off the appliance and call the fire department.
&bull Unplug appliances such as toaster ovens and coffee makers when not in use.
&bull Don't store items inside an oven.
If you are considering alternative heating sources this winter, I urge you to consult with your local fire officials and local building department to make sure any alternative heating sources are safe and legal.
Statistically, more fires occur in the home from November through March. This is because people are heating their homes, and cooking indoors. Please follow these safe and simple tips to help you stay safe and warm this winter.
Fore more information to help you stay safe, please contact our Fire Prevention Bureau at 565-4108.
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