Staying safe with heat this winter

Tips from Grand Forks Fire/Rescue on how to minimize your risk.

It’s not too early to begin preparing for the heating season, and Grand Forks Fire/Rescue is offering some tips to keep families safe.

Deputy Fire Chief for Grand Forks Fire/Rescue Rich Piche, who handles fire prevention and public safety, said the fire department responded to a chimney fire in early November that was caused by creosote build up.

“Inspection and cleaning by a qualified professional can prevent this from happening, Piche said. “This should be done every two to three month if that is your only heat source.”

Piche highlights these 10 tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to stay safe this winter. Families should check them off as they have been completed:

• Our furnace has been inspected and serviced by a qualified professional during the last 12 months. (A furnace should be serviced at least once a year.)

• Our chimneys and vents have been cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional.

• I have checked for creosote built-up. (Not cleaning your chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires from built up creosote. This service needs to be done at least once a year.)

• Our wood for our fireplace or wood stove is dry, seasoned wood.

• Our fireplace screen is metal or heat-tempered glass, in good condition and secure in its position in front of the fireplace.

• We have a covered metal container ready to use to dispose cooled ashes. (Should be kept at least 10 feet from the home and any nearby buildings.)

• Our children know to stay at least 3 feet away from the fireplace, wood/pellet stove, oil stove or other space heaters.

• Our portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.

• Our portable space heaters will be plugged directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) and placed at least three feet from anything that can burn; like bedding, paper, walls, and even people. (Place notes throughout your home to remind you to turn off portable heaters when you leave a room or go to bed.)

• We have tested our smoke alarms and made sure they are working. (You need smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside each sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. For the best protection, the smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.)

• We have tested our carbon monoxide alarms and made sure they are working. (Carbon monoxide alarms should be located outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.)

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