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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires

In the wintertime, people tend to stay warm and cozy indoors, running their boiler or furnaces, enjoying candles and their fireplaces, using space heaters, and cooking holiday meals. Unfortunately, all these things that can make winter cozy and fun also make it the most severe season of the year for fires.  In fact, cooking and heating are the two leading causes of fires in Minnesota.
Here are some important safety tips that will make your wintertime safer:
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • NEVER USE the stove or oven to heat your home.  It may produce poisonous carbon monoxide, which can harm and even kill people in the building.
  • Have your heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.  Ashes should be cool before putting them into a metal container.
  • Check out this one-minute animated video:  

  • Never leave the kitchen when you’re cooking on the stovetop.  Unattended cooking is the leading cause of building fires in Saint Paul.  If you cook, stay and look!
  • Maintain a three-foot kid-safe zone around the stove and oven.
  • If you have a fire in a pan, put a tight-fitting cover over it and turn off the burner.  Leave the cover on the pan until it is completely cool.
  • Install a pair of inexpensive StoveTop  FireStop extinguishers above the burners of your stove.  They’re available a 13 Frattallone’s Ace Hardware stores throughout the Twin Cities.
  • Consider using battery-powered, flameless candles instead of real ones.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily.
  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles safely.  Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down – put it out before it gets too close to the holder.
  • Extinguish candles before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage.
  • Be sure to have a working smoke alarm inside and outside of each bedroom.
  • Be sure to have a working carbon monoxide alarm within ten feet to the entrance of every bedroom in your house or apartment.
  • Test all you smoke and carbon monoxide alarms every month and change batteries once a year.  When you change your clock, change your batteries.
  • Consider buying smoke alarms with the 10-year lithium battery that won’t need changing every year.
  • Have two ways out of every room used for sleeping.
  • If you’re a Saint Paul homeowner and want to join our “Project Safe haven,” please call 651-228-6273.  You will receive a colorful self-inspection checklist for hazards in your home.  If you like, a crew of Saint Paul Firefighters can come by your house to go over your self-inspection with you, help you with your fire escape plan, install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms if you need them, and install stovetop firestop extinguishers above the burners of your stove – all FREE courtesy of a grant from FEMA.
  • ADOPT-A-HYDRANT.   If there is a fire hydrant near your home or business, ADOPT it by keeping it clear of snow for at three feet in all directions.  This will save firefighters valuable time when there’s a fire in your neighborhood.  Check out this cool video:  

If you have any questions about fire safety or injury prevention, please call our Public Education Officer, Elizabeth Larkin at 651-228-6203 and she will help you.  Fire is everybody’s fight!

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