During the cold months, more residential fires-and fire deaths-occur
than any other time of the year. The majority of these fires
are caused from residential heating sources.
East Side Fire Department knows the importance of following basic fire
safety advice. We hope you find these "cold facts" helpful.
If you have any fire safety questions-whether about the safe way to heat
your home-or other general questions-please call us at (225) 272-7779 (non-emergency).
Have a warm, safe winter!
There is a 100 percent chance of cold weather-and the need for home heating-every year.
So, the first cold fact is plan ahead. Planning ahead does not require much time or
money-just the willingness to want to prevent a tragedy before it occurs. The
most important planning facts are:
1. Keep your smoke detector working. Never remove the battery. The price of a battery is not worth deactivating one of the most valuable protection systems around. And don't forget to test your detector monthly. Adults can blow smoke from a candle or match to see if the detector sounds. If the detector begins intermittent chirping, it is a signal the battery is losing power. Replace it immediately.
2. Keep a charged fire extinguisher handy at all times. However, if you have a fire that is large or spreading rapidly, do not try to extinguish it by yourself. Immediately leave the house, getting other members out if possible. Call 9-1-1 from a nearby phone.
3. Practice family fire drills. Everyone should know at least two exits out of a bedroom. If equipment is needed, such as a rope or chain ladder for escape from a second-story window, purchase it as soon as possible and store in a readily accessible place (under bed). Everyone should know what to do when the smoke detector sounds. Emphasize the importance of each family member escaping and meeting outdoors at your pre-selected location (such as sidewalk, mailbox, curb) away from the fire.
4. Memorize the emergency number for fire, emergency medical service and police response: 9-1-1. When you call this number from a safe location, know your address and the name of the closet intersecting street to your location. Remain calm. Do not hang up until the fire department tells you.
5. Observe the cold facts. The following precautions regarding different types of heating sources will keep you safe and warm.
When you choose a portable heater, purchase one approved by a nationally
known safety testing laboratory, such as
Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual. Look for a heater with a
broad, solid base, as well as an automatic cut-off
switch which operates when a unit is tipped over.
Thoroughly read all manufacturer's instructions about the installation
and use of portable heaters. Keep the instructions in an
accessible place, so you can re-read the operating and safety
precautions every year.
Place your portable heater so that radiating elements and surfaces are
not directed toward objects such as furniture, paper,
curtains, and people. (Three-foot clearance is recommended.) Especially
watch children and elderly people around portable
heaters. Place heaters away from stairways, doors and other traffic paths.
Never hang objects to dry on your heater.
Caution children against poking their fingers or other objects through
the protective guard of the heater.
Check cords on electric heaters. If the cord is frayed or split, or hot
to the touch, have it replaced by a professional. Avoid overloading a circuit.
Some heaters require separate circuits because of high wattage. If in
doubt about overloading a circuit, consult an electrician.
Do not use an extension cord with a portable heater unless it is a heavy
duty cord rated as high as the current rating listed on
the heater. Never run a heater or extension cord under carpet or rugs.
Do not use an electric space heater in a bathroom. Do not touch while wet.
LIQUID FUELED HEATERS
Always use the right fuel in a heater-fuel recommended by the
manufacturer. Do not use substitutes or lower grade fuels. Never
use gasoline-even for cleaning-as it gives off deadly fumes. Do not
smoke when handling flammable liquids.
Store flammable liquids in special containers outside the residence at all times.
Never fill a heater with oil or kerosene inside your residence. A fuel
spill can be dangerous. Avoid filling a heater completely
with oil or kerosene because as fuel warms, it expands; a spill could cause a flare-up.
Let the heater cool before refueling.
When using portable heaters, be sure there is proper ventilation to
avoid carbon monoxide accumulation.
NATURAL GAS OR LPG* HEATERS
Buy a space heater approved by a nationally known safety testing laboratory.
Thoroughly read all manufacturer's instructions about the installation
and use of your gas heater. Keep the instructions in an accessible place,
so you can re-read the operating and safety precautions every year.
Space heaters need space. Allow at least three feet of empty space from
the front of your heater and other objects such as furniture, paper, curtains and
people. Especially watch children and elderly people around space heaters.
Use metal connectors and tubing for a gas space heater. Never use a rubber hose.
Periodically check heater for the proper mixture of gas and air.
When using gas space heaters, light the match before turning on the gas
to the burner, thus avoiding the risk of a flare-up from accumulated gas.
If there is a strong gas smell, turn off gas flow and ventilate by
opening windows or doors. Call immediately for gas service personnel.
*Liquefied Petroleum Gas
When using a fireplace, cover the opening with a sturdy metal screen or
heat-tempered glass doors to reduce the chance of a
fire starting from flying sparks or rolling logs.
Open the damper before starting any fire. Begin blaze with kindling.
Never use lighter fluid, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal lighter
fluid or other flammable liquids to ignite a fire.
Remember to keep matches used to start a fire out of the reach of children.
Do not use trash as a fireplace fuel. Burning gift wrappings and
packaging can create a "flash fire," as well as produce toxic
fumes in poorly ventilated fire places.
Fireplaces should have a hearth made of approved non-combustible
material such as brick, stone, ceramic, and tile. Do not
place rugs or other highly flammable materials nearby.
Before and after each heating season, check the chimney for crumbling
bricks, loose mortar, obstructions and the build-up of
creosote. (Creosote is carried up the chimney as a vapor, some of which
cools, condenses and adheres to chimney walls. With
each fire burned, the gummy tar-like substance builds up with the soot to
cover the chimney with a flammable residue layer.)
Vacuum of chemical cleaners are not a totally effective way of removing
the creosote layer. Qualified personnel should perform cleaning and
repairs. Check the Yellow Pages under "Chimney" for professional help.
Keep a charged fire extinguisher near the fireplace.
If using man-made logs, follow directions on the package. Many
commercial products are not designed for use in
pre-fabricated fireplaces, such as those found in many apartments,
because of the intense heat produced by artificial logs.
Never break a man-made log apart to quicken a fire.
Never leave a fire unattended. Plan the duration of the fire with a
departure or bedtime. Do not use water to cool a fire in a
fireplace. This can crack the hot firebrick lining. Do not close a
damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper can
cause hot ashes to build up heat, and thus be a potential hazard.
Do not remove ashes from the fireplace for disposal until they are
totally cold. Avoid a large build-up of ashes in the fireplace.
OTHER HEATING ADVICE
Have professionals periodically check and clean the system. Leave
central heating repairs to experts.
Keep trash and combustible storage away from the heating system. Mobile
homes are equipped with specially designed heating
equipment. Follow manufacturers' directions for use and maintenance.
Do not use a gas or electric range or oven to heat a kitchen or other rooms.
Frozen pipes? Don't try to thaw them with a torch or other open flames.
Call the water department for assistance and advice.
Snow is infrequent in Baton Rouge. However, if there is a heavy fall,
don't forget to clear the fire hydrant while cleaning driveways and walks.
If you lose your source of heating temporarily, and cannot seek other
shelter, here are some basic rules for staying warm:
1. Wear wool clothing if possible.
2. Wear layers of clothing instead of single layer of thick clothing. Similarly, several lightweight blankets are better than one heavy covering.
3. Wear a wool hat, especially while sleeping, since three-quarters of body heat is lost through the head.
4. Eat well-balanced meals.
Remember the emergency number in Baton Rouge for police,
fire and medical emergency: 9-1-1
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