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The original item was published from 1/27/2023 12:05:52 PM to 3/2/2023 12:00:03 AM.

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Fire Department

Posted on: January 27, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Whitman Fire Department Shares Home Heating Safety Tips for Residents This Winter

Winter Heat Safety

WHITMAN – As days continue to get colder, Chief Timothy Clancy and the Whitman Fire Department would like to provide residents with safety tips for heating homes and staying warm this winter.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating is a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Between 2014-2018, local fire departments responded to approximately 48,530 fires due to home heating equipment. Nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February. 

Heating Safety

In an effort to keep residents warm and safe, the Whitman Fire Department wishes to share the following heat safety tips from NFPA:

  • Keep anything that can burn or is easily flammable at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
  • If you have children living in your home, have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters to ensure their safety.
  • Avoid using an oven to heat your home. Residents should have a licensed professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Avoid using space heaters as your primary heating source in your home.
  • Never leave portable heaters on when you leave a room or the house, or go to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
  • If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Fireplace/Chimney Safety

The Whitman Fire Department urges residents with fireplaces to follow these chimney safety tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

  • Remember, clean chimneys usually don’t catch fire. Make sure a professional chimney sweep inspects your solid fuel venting system annually, and sweeps and repairs it when needed. 
  • Creosote — a byproduct of burning wood — is a common cause of chimney fire. To avoid a buildup of creosote do not restrict the air supply: 
  • By closing the glass doors.
  • By failing to open the damper wide enough. The longer the smoke is in the flue, the more likely is it that creosote will form.
  • By closing down the stove damper or air inlets on a wood stove too soon or too much.
  • By burning unseasoned wood.
  • In the case of wood stoves, overloading the firebox with wood in an attempt to get a longer burn time can also contribute to creosote buildup.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out.
  • Do not burn paper in your fireplace.
  • Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.
  • Put ashes in a metal container with a lid, outside, at least 3 feet from your home.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Known also as the “invisible killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and poisonous gas produced whenever any fuel is burned, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal. Other sources of CO include furnaces and water heaters, chimneys, wood stoves, grills, camping stoves, gas ovens and gas snow removal or yard equipment machines.

According to the NFPA more than 150 people in the U.S. die every year from accidental non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. High-level CO poisoning can cause loss of consciousness and ultimately death.

All homes should have CO alarms. If a CO alarm goes off in your home, all residents should leave the house immediately and call 911 from outside or from a neighbor’s house.

The Whitman Fire Department would like to remind residents of the following carbon monoxide safety tips from the NFPA:

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound. Choose a CO alarm that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel declare that it is safe to re-enter the home.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.

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