More Seasonal Fire Tips: Winter

In Case of Fire

If you experience a fire, do not use water. Call 911 immediately. Never attempt to use water to extinguish a grease fire. While awaiting the fire department’s arrival, an all-purpose fire extinguisher can be used, but only if you have one ready and know how to use it. 

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* Make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and repair/replace them as needed.

* Plan and practice exit drills in your home with all household members.

* Place portable heaters, space heaters and wood or coal burning stoves at least three feet away from furniture, walls, curtains or anything else that can burn.

* Turn off space heaters when you leave home or go to bed.

* Let liquid fueled heaters cool down before refueling them.  Refuel the heater outdoors, away from structures where spills won't present a fire hazard.  Use only the fuel recommended.

* Never install unvented gas heaters in bedrooms or bathrooms where carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels.

* Use fireplace screens to protect your home from sparks.

* Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

* Never leave cooking unattended.

* Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to properly use it.

Wood Stove, Space Heater & Kerosene Heater Safety

The misuse of wood stoves, portable space heaters and kerosene heaters are common risks in rural areas, where individuals are twice as likely to die in a fire as individuals living in cities and suburban areas.

Wood Stoves

When shopping for a wood stove, look for solid construction, like plate steel or cast iron. Then remember to closely follow the manufacturer's installation and maintenance instructions. Check for cracks in the body of the stove and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only well-seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, paper or trash. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Be sure to keep combustible objects at least three feet away from your wood stove.

Electric Space Heaters

Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Buy only those heaters that have a thermostat control mechanism that will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Don’t dry clothes on top of heaters or lay objects on top of them. Keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from each heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Kerosene Heaters

Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Only use them for their intended use and fuel them only with the manufacturer’s recommended fuel.  Don’t overfill the heater and only use it in a well ventilated room.

Fireplace Safety

* Fireplaces must be inspected and cleaned regularly because they build up creosote in their chimneys that can quickly start a fire.

* Check for cracks or any obstructions.

* Make sure the damper is open before starting a fire.

* Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup.

* Use a heavy screen to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.

* Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.

* Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

According to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), the increasing number of fires related to turkey fryers is a risk that outweighs the benefits of the appliance. UL points to several common problems that can lead to fires and burns:

* The devices can easily tip over, spilling gallons of hot oil.
* If the pot is overfilled, the oil may spill out when the turkey is added, causing the oil to ignite and a fire to engulf the unit.

* If a partially frozen turkey is placed in the hot oil, a spillover effect can occur, which can also result in a fire.

* Units with no thermostat controls can overheat the oil to the point of combustion (most do not have thermostat controls).

* The sides, lid and pot handles of the unit all get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

As a result of these concerns and its own testing, to date UL has not certified any turkey fryer with the UL Mark. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the majority of reported turkey fryer incidents occur while the oil is being heated.

To help reduce the fire and burn dangers associated with cooking with turkey fryers, follow this advice from CPSC and UL:

* Only use turkey fryers outdoors; away from any building or material that can catch fire; in full view.

* Make sure there is at least two feet of space between the liquid propane tank and the fryer burner.

* Keep children and pets well away from the fryer when in use and for several hours after cooking.

* Never place the fryer on wooden decks or under a garage, carport, or breezeway.

* Never leave the fryer unattended; monitor the temperature closely.

* If any smoke at all comes from the heating pot of oil, turn the burner off immediately - this means the oil is overheated.

* Cover bare skin and use pot holders.

* Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for the amount of oil to add; do not overfill the fryer.

* Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dried before adding to the oil; water and ice crystals can
cause the oil to splatter or spill over. 

Christmas Fire Safety Tips

* Check all smoke detectors and repair/replace any that don't work.
* Never leave cooking unattended. 

* Know how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

* Prepare an exit plan with a meeting spot outside and practice the plan with your family.

* Keep fresh Christmas trees sufficiently watered so the needles don't dry out and shed.

* Keep Christmas trees away from all heat sources and exits.

* Make sure artificial trees are flame-retardant.

* Never decorate metal trees with electric lights.

* Only purchase UL listed lights and decorations.

* Unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your home.

* Never run electrical cords through doorways or under rugs.

* Inspect and replace lights and extension cords with exposed wires or damaged cords.

* Don't overload electrical outlets.  Use power strips instead.

* Never leave burning candles unattended or place them near combustibles.

* Only burn well-seasoned, dry wood in your fireplace.  Never burn paper in a fireplace.