Local official offers fire prevention tips

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    Firefighting officials is encouraging everybody to change the batteries of smoke detectors in our home. Daylight saving time is here again so it is better to be safe than sorry.

    Detectors are proven to work, as are other fire prevention measures that are much less difficult to implement that dealing with the aftermath of a house fire. Jeremy St. John, assistant chief with the City of Houston Fire Department and a captain with the Houston Rural FD, said 2016 has already been an unusually busy year for local firefighters, and offers several tips that can help prevent fire in a home.

    •Safely discard hot ashes outdoors.

    “Heat sources have been the cause of multiple calls this year,” St. John said. “When putting hot ashes outdoors, place them in a safe area and spread them out and dampen them. Failure to do so can often lead to a grass fire. And remember, pile of hot ashes can smolder for days or even weeks.”

    •Keep fireplace flues clean.

    “Each wood-burning stove dispels gas differently, and no two of them burns the same,” St. John said. “Clean all stove pipes, elbows, and flues regularly. Flue fires can also be attributed to the types of woods being burned, because some burn cleaner than others.”

    •Use electric heat with care.

    “Space heaters and furnaces can both cause house fires,” St. John said. “Keep the area around space heaters clear and don’t plug them into extension cords to avoid causing a circuit overload. Check space heater cords regularly to make sure they’re not too hot. If they are, repair the cord or discard the unit. And never piggy-back power strips of extension cords.

    “Electric furnaces also need regular maintenance. Change filters regularly and grease motors and pulleys. Also check the thermostat to make sure the unit runs and performs properly.”

    •Make sure electric cords aren’t damaged.

    “Cords that have any fraying, breaks or missing ends should be discarded,” St. John said. “Make sure heavy objects aren’t sitting on top of power cords. Don’t plug too many items into the same circuit, which can cause an overload and meltdown. Many homes in this area don’t have adequate electrical systems to handle loads spurred by advancement of technology.”

    •Indoor and outdoor property management.

    “Indoors, keep flammable items like chemicals, paper, or wood products away from heat sources or open flames,” St. John said. “Don’t leave hot cooking grease or lit candles unattended. Don’t use inappropriate heat sources in your home, especially gas types that can lead to carbon monoxide build up, which can lead to illness, or even death.

    “Outdoors, keep items like trash, leaves, sticks and other debris away from structures, and don’t stack or store things around the exterior walls of structures. Keep areas around fuel or propane tanks clear of debris to prevent excessive heating of the tank if a fire does occur. Avoid using overloaded or faulty extension cords in landscaping, which can cause a fire if covered with clippings, leaves or other debris.”

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