The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

Chiefs provide winter fire safety precautions for residents


January 11, 2018

Local fire chiefs remind residents it is important for homeowners to practice fire safety and prevention in their homes, especially during the winter.

During the winter months, people spend more time indoors and will use different methods to heat their homes. However, leaving heating equipment unattended and on for a long period of time can result in a fire starting in the home.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) website, more structure fires occur in winter than in any other season.

There are several actions people can take to prevent a fire from starting in their homes.

First, when homeowners are using electrical heating equipment to warm up a room, they should keep any flammable materials at least three feet away from appliances.

Lind Fire Chief Kevin Starring said when homeowners use equipment such as portable heaters, they should only have one appliance plugged into an outlet at a time.

Homeowners should not use a power cords to plug in heating devices as it could overload the cord, and cause sparks and possibly a fire.

People should turn off electrical heating devices when they leave the room or before they go to bed.

When it comes to using a fireplace, homeowners should use dry firewood as fuel. They should also keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers from shooting out and starting a fire on the carpet or other materials.

Homeowners should extinguish the fire when they are done using the fireplace.

Ritzville Fire Chief Joel Bell recommends homeowners store the cooled ashes in a metal container and keep it at least 10 feet away from the home and other nearby structures.

Homeowners also use portable generators to heat their homes, especially during power outages. The NFPA recommends generators be placed as far away from the structure as possible. Overloading a generator can result in a sparks or a fire.

Christmas trees and decorations can also pose a risk of fire danger and should not be left in the home or outside after the holidays.

Bell also recommended homeowners have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors inside of their homes. CO is colorless, odorless and poisonous and a person can die from breathing in high levels of it. The gas can be emitted from generators, fuel-burning devices and fireplaces.

Bell said smoke alarms should be installed in rooms where fires are most likely to start, such as the kitchen, as well as other living areas.

Starring said homeowners should also have their chimneys inspected and cleaned once a year.

Homeowners should create a home fire escape plan in place in case of an emergency, Starring added. Families should spend time practicing their escape plan, as well as designating a safe place to meet outside.


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