In the wake of recent fires, the Oak Bluffs Fire Department and Ambulance Service described the following potential winter fire hazards, and provided a list of safety tips intended to have a fire-safe home this season:
Inspect wood stove and fireplace chimneys annually and clean if necessary, a press release advised. The stove should be allowed to burn hot for 15 to 30 minutes regularly to avoid creosote buildup.
Be sure your fireplace fire is out before you go to sleep. Never close a damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper can help rekindle the fire, forcing toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shut offs are in proper working order. Have your furnace inspected and repaired by a qualified specialist.
Keep exhaust vents clear of snow and debris. Blocked vents can cause dangerous gases to backup into the house.
Be certain your kerosene heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build up. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
Never use fuel-burning appliances without proper room ventilation. Fossil fuels such as coal, kerosene, or propane can produce deadly fumes.
Keep young children away from space heaters, especially when they are wearing loose fitting clothing that can easily be ignited.
Make sure that every level in your home has working smoke and CO2 alarms, and be sure to clean them and change their batteries at least twice a year. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can cause serious injury, even death.
In the event of a fire, everyone should get out of the house immediately and call 911 from outside. Never go back inside a burning house to retrieve personal items or pets.
Contact your local fire department for advice or with questions on fire safety. Call the Oak Bluffs Fire Department and Ambulance Service for more information at 508-693-0077 or 508-693-5380.