by Amy J. Valdez, Battalion Chief, Virginia Beach Fire Department
by Retired Master Firefighter/|
VBFD Photographer Ray Smith.
All heating equipment needs space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away. Supervise children whenever a wood stove or space heater is being used. Have a three-foot "kid-free" zone around open fires and space heaters.
Fireplaces regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. They need to be cleaned out frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires.
Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Don't wear loose-fitting clothes near any open flame. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.
|Photo by Virginia Beach Fire Deparment|
Wood stoves cause over 4,000 residential fires every year. Carefully follow the manufacturer's installation and maintenance instructions. Look for solid construction, such as plate steel or cast iron metal. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs, or trash. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
Electric Space Heaters
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare-up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. When refueling, allow the appliance to cool first and then refuel outside. Never overfill any portable heater. Use the kerosene heater in a well ventilated room.
|Photo by Virginia Beach Fire Department|
For more fire prevention tips, visit the U.S. Fire Administration
The Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign is part of the United States Fire Administration’s effort to reduce fire deaths and injuries across the nation. More than 3,000 people die in home fires each year in the United States; most of which are in homes without a working smoke alarm. A working, properly installed smoke alarm lowers your chances of dying in a fire.
The Install. Inspect. Protect. fire safety campaign will help encourage Americans to practice fire safety, to protect themselves and their families, and to protect the firefighters who work each day to save lives. Research has proven that the following fire safety practices work:
1. installing and maintaining smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers;
2. practicing fire escape plans; and,
3. performing a home safety walk-through to remove fire hazards from homes.