Cold Weather Safety
POSTED: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 12:11pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:25pm
With the arrival of a colder weather in our city, El Paso Fire Department Officials remind the public how important it is to take the necessary safety precautions to prevent heating fires in the home. Many of these fires and injuries can be prevented through proper use and maintenance of heating systems and equipment.
Heating is the second leading cause of all residential building fires (behind cooking fires) and is most prevalent during colder weather when the use of central heating systems, portable heaters, and fireplaces is most common. Over one quarter of residential building heating fires result from improper maintenance of heating equipment, specifically the failure to clean the equipment.
El Paso Fire Officials Offer these Heater and Fire Place Safety Tips:
Heater safety tips:
Use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards.
Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials.
Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. Make sure your heater meets current safety standards to shut off if oxygen levels fall too low. Make sure your heater is correctly rated for your home. An oversized heater could deplete the available oxygen, causing excess carbon monoxide to be produced.
NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
Turn the space heater off if you leave the area. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
Have heaters inspected annually to ensure proper operation.
Do not use a kitchen range or oven to heat your house because it could overheat or generate excessive carbon monoxide.
Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired equipment should be used.
Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house, inside every bedroom, and outside the bedrooms in each sleeping area. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area.
Fireplace safety tips:
Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for leakage and blockage by creosote or debris.
Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. Never close the damper before going to bed if the ashes are still warm. An open damper will prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home, especially while the family is sleeping.
Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors can explode. Never keep flammable fuels or materials near a fire. Never store flammable liquids in your home.
Never use charcoal in a fireplace because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep a screen or glass enclosure around a fireplace to prevent sparks or embers from igniting flammable materials.
The very young, the elderly and or infirmed also tend to be prone to cold related injuries. It is important to monitor children, and to regularly check on elderly relatives or neighbors.
Bring all you pets and plants inside. Outdoors, pets can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed.
If you know of an elderly person, infirmed person, or needy family who needs a blanket to stay warm, call 211 for the Extreme Weather Blanket Program.
Recognize signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:
The most common symptom is HEADACHE. However, symptoms may also include dizziness, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, people can become increasingly irritable, agitated and confused, eventually becoming lethargic and lapsing into unconsciousness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, and get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.
Driving Safety tips:
• If you must drive in cold weather conditions, slow down and use extra caution. Be aware of ice or snow on the road, especially on overpasses.
• Prepare your car. Inspect tires for proper inflation and make sure they’re in good condition. Use the right antifreeze for your car and for the outside temperatures. Have an adequate supply of windshield fluid on hand.
• Always clear off your vehicle including the windows, roof, hood and trunk before setting out.