Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It’s time to check chimneys and furnaces before winter sets in

Christmas holiday decorations also pose threat of fire in homes during holiday season

November 23, 2004

Vehicles aren't the only possessions that need extra attention as we head into winter.

Homes also require some precautionary check-ups.

Tonganoxie Fire Chief Dave Bennett is urging homeowners to have a certified chimney sweep evaluate their chimneys.

"If they haven't done it in the last year, they really need to do it," Bennett said.

An unclean chimney can lead to serious problems.

Creosote, or wood sap, can build up in the chimney. If embers make contact with the creosote, it can catch on fire.

"It can burn through some chimneys," Bennett said. "It can lead to some very dangerous situations."

Creosote builds up during an extended period of time. People should have flues inspected for any cracks. Hot embers can escape and get into the structure.

"It seems to me like we run into one or two or three flue fires a year," Bennett said. "We try to put them out with dry powder to not damage the flue. We get worried it can get into the attic and the structure."

Be on alert

Homes should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Especially this time of year, with furnaces coming on, both safety devices are important.

Bennett said a recent story about a family of five dying from carbon monoxide poisoning reiterates the importance of carbon monoxide detectors.

"It often mimics flu-like symptoms," Bennett said. "We try to encourage people to purchase CO detectors."

Anyone who suspects carbon-monoxide poisoning should immediately get out of the house and call the fire department, which will inspect the property. If possible, windows and doors should be closed.

"Try to keep it closed up so we can get inside and find out where it's coming from," Bennett said.

Carbon monoxide can escape if windows or doors are open, which makes it much more difficult to determine where a leak is coming from.

Christmas time

As one Yuletide carol goes, "It's the most wonderful time of the year," but it also can be a dangerous time of year if decorations aren't properly monitored.

Christmas lights should be UL-listed and in good shape.

And, Bennett said, if using a natural Christmas tree, residents should keep the trees well-watered and put appropriate bulbs on the tree.

In addition to electrical lights, candles need utmost attention.

"Never leave a candle unattended," Bennett said. "Keep them away from children. Just really be aware."

With the recent rash of fires in the area, the fire chief urges everyone to be safe this winter.

"Especially this year, especially this end of the county I've seen more devastating fires than I've ever seen on the fire department," Bennett said.

And by all means, call for help.

"We want to make sure everyone's safe," Bennett said. "If there's an emergency, please don't hesitate to call 911."

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