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Monday, November 21, 2011

MMU: Home Heating Equipment Check List

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit Chief Nancy B. Koerperich is reminding the public of the importance of annually inspecting home heating equipment. Cal Fire is dispatched to many home fires this time of year when the response could have been prevented by simple equipment maintenance procedures.
Below is a list of heating problems that are often overlooked.
When was the last time your flue was cleaned?
Chimney sweep vendors in the area can be found in our newspaperon the Internet and the yellow pages of our local phone book under "chimney cleaning." Also flue brushes can be rented from local vendors for a minimal charge. This is also a good time to inspect the firebox and flue for cracks and damage.
Inspect all home heating units for obstructions and operation.
When the heater is used for the first time during the fall or winter, it can lead to the question, "Do you smell something burning?" Cleaning the duct openings will reduce the chances of this happening. Also, check the floor grills and wall home heating grills for obstructions that may have been left there during the summer. This is also a good time to replace home heating unit filters.
Check all gas appliances.
Hundreds of people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning. This toxic gas is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. To prevent your chances of becoming a statistic, gas appliance lines and venting must be checked for obstructions, leaks and wear or damage.
Home Heating
Any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential source of carbon monoxide. If you suspect that you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately. If possible, open all windows and doors to increase ventilation, turn off combustion appliance(s), and exit the house. If you ignore the gas leak you could lose consciousness and die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.
Use Fireplace safely.
Use only clean seasoned firewood. Do not burn paper or cardboard in the fireplace. Place a screen over the fireplace opening to prevent sparks from igniting flooring in front of the fireplace. Check the spark arrester over the chimney to be certain it is (1/2 mesh) to prevent sparks from igniting your roof.
Many fires this time of year are caused by negligent disposal of fireplace ashes. Fireplace ashes can be hot for a week or more and should be disposed of with extreme care. A metal pail or bucket should be used to remove the ashes from the home. After the ashes are outside, they should be mixed with water in the bucket and left well away from any combustibles.
Portable heaters pose many dangers.
Fuel fired heaters (usually kerosene) are illegal for use in California because they may deplete the oxygen supply in the home and cause asphyxiation. Portable electric heaters can cause fires when they come in contact with combustibles, such as towels, curtains, bed linens and toys. A safe distance when placing a space heater is at least three feet from any combustible material. California statutes of the Health and Safety code prohibit the sale of un-vented heaters designed for the use inside the house. Free standing heaters should have a "tip over" shut off switch.
Never leave a burning candle unattended. Always keep candles away from children. When placing your candle remember to keep it away from decorations, pets, bedding, and curtains. Never place your candle on any type of cloth, doily, or wood; it is safer to place the candle on a metal surface or container. Never use a candle near a tree or as a decoration on a tree. Always extinguish any flame before you go to sleep at night or leave your home.
Poorly maintained heating devices have caused many fires in the past. Please take a few minutes to check your heater, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and practice your fire exit drill, to insure your families' safety during the holidays.

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    ****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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