Public Information Officer, Savannah Fire & Emergency Services
SAVANNAH, GA- It's estimated that as many as 27,000 house fires are started in chimneys or fireplaces each year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend that all chimneys and fireplaces be inspected by a certified technician at least once a year for proper operation and performance.
Although many people believe their chimney only needs to be cleaned and inspected if they burn wood in the fireplace or wood burning stove, these features need a check-up whether they burn gas, oil, wood or coal because the chimney is relied upon to safely carry toxic gases out of the house. NFPA and CSIA strive to eliminate residential chimney fires, carbon monoxide intrusion and other hazards that result in the loss of lives and property.
Following a few safety tips will help ensure safety and comfort during the colder weather.
Space heaters can be dangerous if not used with some general safety guidelines in mind. Check your owner's manuals for general maintenance and cleaning instructions. Each season, before using space heaters, inspect them for proper operation and damage, including the power cord. It is more economical to replace older units than to have them repaired. Newer units are safer and more economical to operate. Discard old and/or faulty space heaters in a way that they cannot be used by someone else.
Never use any type of fuel powered heating device inside a closed structure. Not only are they a fire safety threat, but propane and kerosene powered heaters emit carbon monoxide (an odorless gas) which can accumulate rapidly in an enclosed area and have deadly results. Never use gasoline in any space heater.
Gasoline Powered Equipment
Flammable liquids should not be stored inside the home or in an attached garage or shed. This includes any unused fuel still in the motor's fuel tanks. Store this equipment away from your home or drain excess fuel out of the tank before storing. This simple safety precaution will help prevent accidental fires due to escaping fuel vapors.
Don't assume these life saving appliances work just by looking at it. They require some basic maintenance to make sure they will work properly. Nuisance or false alarms are the number one cause for battery removal and are usually caused by installing units too close to the kitchen and or heating vents. Relocate units closer to, or inside sleeping areas to prevent false alarms.
Replace the battery when necessary or once a year. Clean dust and cob webs from around the cover to let air flow inside. Replace units that are ten years old, or if reliability is in question. Push the test button once a month to make sure it works properly.
Home Fire Escape Plans
Involve everyone in the home, especially children in the design and practice of your plan. Physically practicing the plan helps to identify any un-foreseen difficulties anyone may have when trying to escape.
Designate one meeting place for everyone to gather after evacuating. Children need to know how to save themselves when no one can help them. Practice the plan once a year or anytime living arrangements change in the home.
In the event of a fire, get everyone out first. Call 9-1-1 from a phone away from the home.
Savannah Fire & Emergency Services offers free smoke detectors and installation for homeowners within the City of Savannah. Savannah firefighters also will perform home safety checks to help minimize fire dangers in the home. Contact Savannah Fire & Emergency Services at 651-6756 to schedule either of these services.