Dolores Fire Department: be careful with fire this winter

More fires occur during the winter months than any other time and the Dolores Fire Department has already responded to a few chimney fires that could have been prevented. Fortunately, taking simple precautions can prevent most fires.

Portable heaters

• Put at least three feet of empty space between the heater and everything else.

• Vacuum and clean the dust and lint from all heaters.

• If the cord gets hot, frayed or cracked, have the heater serviced.

• Never use extension cords with portable electric heaters.

• Turn off portable heaters when leaving or sleeping.

• An adult should always be present when anyone is using a space heater around children.

• Make sure your portable electric heater is UL approved and has a tip-over shut off.

Wood stove and fireplace safety

• Have a certified chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace.

• Place ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least three feet away from anything that burns.

• To prevent flue fires, burn dry, well-seasoned wood.

• Always use a fireplace screen made of sturdy metal or heat-tempered glass. If children are present, use a special child-guard screen.

Generators

• Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer. You cannot see or smell it. A generator’s exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide, which can kill you in a matter of minutes.

• Never use a portable generator inside a home, garage, shed or other partially enclosed space, even if doors and windows are open.

• Place portable generators outside only, far away from the home. Keep the generator away from openings to the home, including doors, windows and vents.

• Read the label of the generator and the owner’s manual, and follow the instructions.

• Install CO alarms with battery backup in the home outside each sleeping area.

• Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy. CO poisoning from exposure to generator exhaust can quickly lead to incapacitation and death.

• Be sure generator fuel is properly and safely stored.

• Always refuel the generator outdoors and away from any ignition sources.

• If you choose to have a generator permanently connected to your home’s electrical system, make sure a licensed electrician installs it and be sure to notify your electric company.

Candles

• Place candles in sturdy, fireproof candleholders where they cannot be knocked over.

• Make sure all candles are out before going to bed or leaving the house.

• Keep candles, matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

• Keep candles away from Christmas trees, evergreen clippings, decorations, presents and wrapping paper.

Smoke alarms and home escape plans

• Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and in each bedroom.

• Test and vacuum your smoke alarms each month to make sure they are working.

• Smoke alarms 10 years old or older need to be replaced with new units.

• Know two ways out of every room.

• Practice your escape plan with your whole family at least twice a year.

• Do not attempt to go back into a burning home.