Monday, December 6, 2010

Cold Weather Prompts Warnings

As the coldest weather of the season so far settles in on the Cookeville area, the state fire marshal's office and several local fire departments have issued warnings to residents trying to keep warm -- like making sure you turn off heating devices when not in use and having working smoke detectors. Officials say that during the winter holidays, many things like fireplaces, space heaters, even Christmas lights can create fire hazards. Fire marshal Leslie Newman says that following a few safety tips can greatly reduce the risk of fires:
  • Make it a "house rule" to test your home’s smoke alarms, before using a space heater or fireplace. All smoke alarms should additionally be tested once a month. Doing so could save your life.
  • Space heaters need space. Never put a space heater within three feet of anything combustible, including furniture, bedding or aerosol cans. Make sure your space heater bears the mark of an independent testing lab such as UL or FM. Look for models with automatic shutoff features, when purchasing space heaters. Never use extension cords with space heaters.
  • Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney has been professionally cleaned to remove the buildup of combustible materials that accumulate inside the flue.
  • Be sure any kerosene-fueled heating device is installed with proper ventilation. A portable kerosene heater must be filled only in a well-ventilated area, free of flame and other heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the type of kerosene specified by the manufacturer, and never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
  • And never leave a fire, space heater or flame unattended.