Fire safety this holiday season
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 14, 2011; Recently, the Pierce County Fire Marshal’s Office investigated a fire that destroyed a home. The cause of all the damage was a candle that had been used for light during a power outage. This unfortunate event is a reminder that during the cold and stormy seasons, residents begin searching for alternative sources of light and heat to accommodate their families.
Candles, wood burning stoves, space heaters, and fireplaces are all heavily used during these times. With hopes of reducing the high number of house fires and increasing awareness of fire safety, Pierce County Emergency Management recommends the following:
• Check the furnace to ensure it is clean and in proper working condition; make repairs if needed. This allows the furnace to run more efficiently, decreases fuel costs, and keeps homes safer.
• Inspect the chimney each year for creosote buildup or damage to the flue. Burn dry wood in place of green wood to decrease the amount of smoke produced. Avoid burning non-wood materials such as paper, trash, and cardboard, that may create sparks leading to a chimney fire. Purchase a stovepipe thermometer if planning to use a wood stove.
• If the power goes out, turn off any heat-producing appliances that were in use when the power first went out. This will prevent stoves, heaters, and other hot appliances from “firing up” automatically.
• Do not plug a portable generator directly into an electrical outlet. Plugging a generator directly into an electrical outlet can energize “dead” power lines, which could potentially injure or kill someone.
• Although not recommended, candles are frequently used as a source of light during power outages. If candles are used, place them in sturdy holders, out of reach from children and pets, and away from flammable objects. Never leave burning candles unattended; extinguish them after each use.
• Check all smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide detectors at least twice a year to ensure they are working properly.
• Plan and practice a “home evacuation plan” with family members to prepare for potential emergencies.
For additional information regarding fire safety, contact the Pierce County Fire Marshall’s Office at 253-798-7179 or email CFirePrevention@co.pierce.wa.us
Sheri Badger, Pierce County Emergency Management
Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director