Katy, TX News (November 10, 2014) – Harris County Emergency Service District #48 and the West I-10 Fire Department would like to remind homeowners it is time to prepare their homes for the holiday season and cold weather. Preparation now can reduce your chance of the West I-10 Fire Department responding to your residence for a fire, electrical emergencies, or carbon monoxide issue.
Last season (November 1 – March 1) the fire department responded to several residential fires involving alternate heating source fires (fireplace and chimneys) electrical fires involving holiday decorations.
Please follow the fire safety tips from the United States Fire Administration listed below:
Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean
- Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
- Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials; clear the area around and near the flue in the attic for accumulated leaves and pine needles.
- Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
- Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
- Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces, otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
- Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
Safely Burn Fuels
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup. Do not burn “Christmas Tree” branches in the fire place.
- Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove
- When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home. Do not place ash in your normal trash containers.
Protect the Outside of Your Home
- Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris; clear debris from rain gutters
- Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester. Remove from the area of the fireplace flue leaves and pine needle accumulation.
- Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.
Protect the Inside of Your Home
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries twice a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms. Remember to call the West I-10 Fire Department when you need help checking your detector in those high ceiling areas.
- Discard smoke detectors that are older than 10 years and purchase new
- Install a smoke detector in any bedroom that has the following electrical appliances (Televisions, Computers, and Printers) for early detection of a fire in that room.
- Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
- Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.
- Install Carbon Monoxide detectors on each level of your home and in the area of the natural gas furnace or water heater.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors should be present in any home that is heated by fossil fuel (natural gas, L.P. gas, fuel oil or wood burning stoves), has a natural gas dryer, attached garage or fire place.
- Children between the ages of 5 and 18 are not always alerted to the “Beeping” of the smoke detector alarms or a carbon monoxide alarms. You can purchase smoke alarms that offer both a “Beep” and “Voice” alert for a child’s room.
- Exit Drills in the Home (E.D.I.T.H): All residents should practice EDITH, develop a family escape plan, designate a meeting place once out of the home. During the night, you have 90 seconds to safely exit the home when a fire is in progress.
- Call 911 from outside of the home. Alert all occupants and get out of the home first.
- Never return to the inside of a burning house or building.
- If you are trapped by fire in a bedroom above the first floor, hang a blanket, towel or pillow out the window. This will attract the attention of Fire Department members that you are in that room.
- Sleep with bedroom doors in the closed position. This will slow the spread of smoke and heat into the room.
- Furnace – Have a qualified technician inspect your furnace and gas water heater to protect against carbon monoxide emergency in the home.
- Residential Fire Sprinklers – When building a new home or considering extensive remodeling, the Department recommends the installation of a residential sprinkler system. Smoke alarms offer early detection and residential sprinkler systems offer early suppression of fire.
Exercise Candle Caution
- Candles are a great way to give a room that warm glow, but they can also cause fires. According to the National Candle Association, almost 10,000 home fires per year are started due to improper candle use. Never leave candles burning if you go out or go to sleep, and keep your candles away from pets and children.
Please call the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office at 281-436-8000 or the West I-10 Fire Department 281-675-3600.