POSTED: Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 3:58pm
UPDATED: Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 5:36pm
EL PASO- – Extreme cold weather events result in the increased risks for fire related incidents and fatalities due to the actions our citizens take in order to stay warm. The El Paso Fire Department would like to remind the public of some basic fire safety practices to help minimize the risks to you and your family during extreme cold weather events:
1. Portable Heater Safety: Most home heating fires involve portable and space heaters, with gas (propane) and kerosene heaters accounting for the highest fatality risk. Therefore:
a. Only use portable heaters that have been approved for indoor use.
b. Use space heaters with extreme care and inspect electric heaters for damaged cords.
c. Keep combustible materials including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source.
d. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry.
e. Always keep an eye on heating appliances. Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
2. Appliance Safety: Have all heating appliances - furnaces, water heaters and wood stoves - checked and serviced annually by a reliable professional. Do not repair them yourselves, unless you are licensed to do so. These devices are a primary source of carbon monoxide poisoning and present some of the most significant fire potential in a home.
3. Gas Stove Safety: Never attempt to use your gas stove or oven to heat your house. The open flames from the stove are dangerous and the process results in high levels of carbon monoxide gas.
4. Carbon Monoxide Safety: Watch out for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as nausea, lightheadedness and headaches, especially when more than one person in the home is experiencing these symptoms. If you recognize these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide, exit the home immediately. Call 911 from a safe location.
5. Smoke Alarms: Make sure working smoke detectors are installed on every level of the home. Test the detectors monthly and replace the batteries twice a year.
If you do not have a working smoke detector in your home and need assistance obtaining one, please contact the Fire Prevention Division at 485-5699.
6. Special Needs: Remember to check on the very young and the elderly as they are more susceptible to cold related injuries. Help protect those that can’t protect themselves. Also remember your pets. Take precautions to help keep them safe and warm as well.
7. Emergency Escape Plans: Make sure that you have and practice an emergency escape plan. When you have to evacuate, get out, stay out, and call 911 from a cell phone or neighbors home.
For more information visit www.elpasotexas.gov/fire  or contact the El Paso Fire Department at (915) 485-5699.