Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fire Department Safety Tips

Cold Weather and Wind Prompts Fire District to Issue Safety Tips

Posted: 07 Dec 2009 12:00 PM PST

With prolonged below-freezing temperatures predicted for this region and the potential for power outages due to high winds, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue has concerns about individuals heating their home with alternative heat sources. This may also be more of an issue this year as people try to save money due to the economy.

A recent survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Red Cross indicated that in light of increasing heating costs and a suffering economy, 48% of the households surveyed will use an alternative heating source to reduce their bills this winter. Alternative heating sources include portable space heaters, stoves, ovens and fireplaces. A third (36%) of people with fireplaces reported they never cleaned or inspected their chimneys.

“It’s cold and some will choose to heat their homes with fireplaces or stoves,” says TVF&R Public Information Officer Brian Barker, “we just want to remind people to use caution when heating your home.”

TVF&R offers the following tips on the safe use of alternative heating sources:

§ If using a fireplace or woodstove, check to ensure the flue is unobstructed and the damper is open. Always use a tight-fitting fireplace screen or glass doors to contain burning embers.

§ Keep a close eye on your fire and keep it manageable. A fire that grows too large and hot can result in a chimney fire. Also, ensure your fire is extinguished before going to bed or leaving your home.

§ Never use gasoline or lighter fluid to start a fire.

§ Keep combustible materials (Christmas tree, furniture, paper, etc.) at least three feet away from fireplaces, woodstoves, and all heating devices.

§ Ashes can rekindle and start a fire. Wait several days before cleaning out your fireplace or woodstove or dispose of ashes in a metal container with a lid, placed outside your home.

§ Candles are a fire hazard – use only flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and light sticks as emergency lighting in your home.

§ Never use outdoor equipment including propane or kerosene heaters or charcoal barbecues inside a home due to the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that claims hundreds of lives every year.

§ Gas-fueled generators must be used outside in a well-ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using a generator.

§ Check your smoke alarms to ensure they are working and install a carbon monoxide detector as a precaution.

Protect Your Pipes!

Posted: 07 Dec 2009 09:34 AM PST

With temperatures dipping below freezing, pipes and faucets near or in exterior walls may be at risk of freezing and bursting, resulting in a water problem when warmer temperatures return. TVF&R advises individuals to take the following preventative measures and know how to shut-off the water to their home in case of emergency.

§ In your home you may have pipes located in the exterior wall because they serve a fixture that is placed against that wall. While they may be somewhat insulated, they can still become cold enough to freeze. In the case of a sink, it may be helpful to open the cabinet doors under the sink to allow warm interior air to warm the wall. You can also leave a trickle of water running from the faucet.

§ Exposed pipes in the attic, basement or crawl space can also be at risk of freezing. Leaving a trickle of water running from a faucet farthest away from the water meter can be helpful. You can also wrap insulating material or electrical wire heating wrap around the pipes. This can be purchased at any home improvement store.

§ Never use a propane torch or an open flame to thaw a pipe due to the risk of igniting wood beams, flooring and other combustible materials around pipes. Hair dryers should also be avoided due to the risk of electrocution.

As water freezes, it expands. With enough expansion, pipes can develop cracks which are not apparent at first, but begin to leak as the ice melts. In the case of a broken pipe shut off the water valve (See how: http://www.tvwd.org/resources–outreach/shut-off-your-water.aspx) and contact a professional plumber or fire and water restoration company. These companies—located in the Yellow Pages—have the skills and equipment to remedy any water damage and get your home quickly back in order.

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