The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit Chief Nancy Koerperich would like to remind the public of the importance of annually inspecting home heating equipment. Home fires occur when using dangerous heating equipment or unsafe practices. Below are some important safety tips to keep your home and family safe and warm.
1. When was the last time your flue was cleaned?
Chimney sweep vendors in your area can be found in your local newspaper, on the internet and in the yellow pages of your phone book under "chimney cleaning."
2. Inspect all home heating units for obstructions and operation.
Clean duct openings check the floor grills and wall furnace heating grills for obstructions that may have been left there during the summer.
3. Check all gas appliances.
Hundreds of people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning -- An odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas. To prevent your chances of becoming a statistic, gas appliance lines and vents must be checked for obstructions, leaks and wear or damage. Now is a good time to change the battery in your carbon monoxide alarm or purchase and install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
Any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential source of carbon monoxide. If you suspect that you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately.
4.Use Fireplace safely.
Use only clean seasoned firewood. Do not burn paper or cardboard in the fireplace. Keep a metal or glass screen over the fireplace opening to prevent sparks from igniting flooring in front of the fireplace. Check the condition of your (1/2" mesh) screen on top of your chimney or stove pipe to ensure sparks will not escape and ignite your roof.
Fireplace ashes can be hot for a week or more and should be disposed of with extreme care. A metal pail or bucket should be used to remove the ashes from the home.
5. Portable heaters pose many dangers.
Fuel fired heaters (usually kerosene) are illegal for use in California because they may deplete the oxygen supply in the home and cause asphyxiation. Portable electric heaters can cause fires when they come in contact with combustibles, such as towels, curtains, bed linens and toys.
Never leave a burning candle unattended. Always keep candles away from children as well as from decorations, pets, bedding and curtains. Never place your candle on any type of cloth, doily, or wood.
"Poorly maintained heating devices have caused many fires in the past," Koerperich said. "Take a few minutes to check your heater, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and practice your fire escape plan, to insure your family's safety."