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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - January 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

Chief: Weather creating high fire risk
Polk County Enterprise - January 2009

Fire Chief Corky Cochran warned residents Wednesday that the cold, dry conditions we have been experiencing can lead to wildfi res. “When you factor in the sunny days and the winds, there is potential for devastating fi res,” Cochran said. Cochran urged people to have their fi replaces, central heating and gas furnaces inspected. These precautions should normally be carried out long before winter arrives, but it is never too late to double-check things, he said. As a home settles it can lead to cracks in the chimney that allow sparks and heat to escape into the attic. Also, residue in the chimney can lead to fl ash fi res. Space heaters are another area of concern because safety guidelines are often ignored. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fi res every year are associated with the use of room (space) heaters. More than 300 persons die in these fi res. An estimated 6,000 persons receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fi re situations. CPSC offers the following general suggestions for gas, wood, kerosene and electric space heaters: • Select a space heater with a guard around the fl ame area or the heating element. This will help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source. • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A good practice is to read aloud the instructions and warning labels to all members of the household to be certain that everyone understands how to operate the heater safely. Keep the owner’s manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed. • Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Some heaters have very hot surfaces. Children should not be permitted to adjust the controls or move the heater. • Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps to prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Even vented heaters require ventilation for proper combustion. • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the area. • Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fi red heaters should be used. • Place heaters at least three feet away from objects such as bedding, furniture and drapes. Never use heaters to dry clothes or shoes. Do not place heaters where towels or other objects could fall on the heater and start a fi re. • Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually by qualified persons to ensure that they are properly adjusted and clean. Keep the wick of the kerosene heater clean and properly adjusted. Appliances that are not working properly can release harmful and even fatal amounts of pollutants. • Be certain that your heater is placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets. • Never use gasoline in a kerosene heater. Even very small quantities of gasoline in the heater tank can cause a fire. Kerosene should never be stored or carried in a container that has had gasoline because the residual gasoline is enough to increase the flammability of the kerosene. • Only use 1-K kerosene in kerosene heaters. Kerosene should be purchased from a dealer who can certify that it is 1-K grade kerosene. • If uncontrolled flaming occurs, do not attempt to move the heater. If your heater is equipped with a manual shut-off switch, turn off the heater. Do not attempt to extinguish a kerosene-heater fire with water or blankets. If activation of the shut-off switch does not extinguish the flame, leave the area and immediately call the fire department. • Keep kerosene stored outside in a sealed blue container labeled “Kerosene.” Electric Space Heaters Portable electric heaters manufactured after 1991 include many requirements to enhance safety. For portable electric heaters that may present a fire hazard when tipped over, a tip-over switch will turn the heater off until it is turned upright again. New heaters also include indicator lights to let users know that the heater is plugged in or is turned on. Some have include innovative safety controls such as infrared or proximity sensors, which can turn a heater off when objects come too close, or when children or pets are near. These controls may prevent burn injuries to children who might play too near a heater, or reduce the risk of ignition of combustible materials that contact the heater. • Use heaters on the floor. Never place heaters on furniture, since they may fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater, which could result in a fire or shock hazard. • Unless certified for that purpose, do not use heaters in wet or moist places, such as bathrooms; corrosion or other damage may lead to a fire or shock. • Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat and cause a fire. • Be sure the plug fits snugly in the outlet. Since a loose plug can overheat, have a qualified repairman replace the worn-out plug or outlet. Since heaters draw lots of power, the cord and plug may feel warm. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repairman check for problems. • If a heater is used on an outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and the GFCI trips, do not assume the GFCI is broken. Stop using the heater and have it checked, even it if seems to be working properly. • Broken heaters should be checked and repaired by a qualified appliance service center. Do not attempt to repair, adjust or replace parts in the heater yourself. Wood Burning Heaters • Buy wood-burning stoves that are certified as meeting EPA emission standards. • Check chimney and stove pipes frequently during the heating season for creosote build-up and have them cleaned annually. • Stoves must be placed on an approved floor protector or fire resistant floor. • Do not burn trash or anything other than the proper fuel. • Use a metal container for ash removal. Gas Space Heaters • All unvented gas-fired space heaters (manufactured after 1983) should be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). An ODS detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. • Vented gas-fired heaters can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not vented properly. If your space heater is meant to be vented, be sure that the heater and flue are professionally installed according to local codes. Be aware that older gas-fired space heaters may not be equipped with the safety devices, such as an ODS or a pilot safety valve that will turn off the gas to the heater if the pilot light should go out. If the pilot light on your heater should go out, use the following safety tips: • Light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot. This avoids the risk of a flashback, which could occur if you allow gas to accumulate before you light the pilot. • IF YOU SMELL GAS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIGHT THE APPLIANCE. Turn off all controls and open a window or door and leave the area. Then call a gas service person. Do not touch any electrical switches. Important safety measures • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. For the best detection and notification protection, install both ionizationand photoelectric-type smoke alarms. Put them inside or near every bedroom. Test them monthly to make sure they work. Put in new batteries once a year. • Install a CO alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home. • Keep at least one drypowder operative, ABC-type fire extinguisher in the home at all times. • Keep areas around heat sources free of papers and trash. • Store paints, solvents and flammable liquids away from all heat and ignition sources. • Develop a fire-escape plan before a fire occurs. Be certain that all members of the household understand the plan and are able to carry out the plan in case of emergency. • Be sure the plan includes a predetermined meeting place outside the house. • Teach every family member to “Stop, Drop, Roll and Cool” if clothes catch fire by dropping immediately to the ground, crossing hands over your chest and rolling over and over or back and forth to put out the flames. Cool the burned area with cool water and seek medical attention for serious burns. • Learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher. • If you have a fire in your home, once you get out, stay out. Do not go back inside for any reason. HEATER: Follow safety rules during frosty weather From Page 1A


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