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Michael McLemore

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.


 

I was speaking with Lieutenant John Hanna about the subject for this month’s column and he asked if he could contribute. He has worked in the department for nearly two decades and has witnessed quite a few disasters this time of year. He now works with me in the fire prevention division and has a passion for reducing the number of preventable fires. Therefore, my original column idea has been shelved and I have obliged his generous offer. By following some simple winter and holiday safety tips “you” can have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires in the winter months. In fact, half of all heating fires occur in December, January, and February. To prevent this we recommend that you have a qualified service representative inspect your heater annually. To enjoy your fireplace safely schedule an annual fireplace inspection and cleaning by a professional. Furthermore, make sure that the flue damper is open, there is no debris blocking the chimney, a sturdy fire screen is in place and all combustibles are kept at least three feet away prior to lighting your fireplace. We also recommend the use of Carbon Monoxide detectors if heating your home by natural gas or using a wood burning fire place.

Both real and artificial trees can present potential fire hazards. Real Christmas trees can easily catch fire when they get dried out. To help prevent a fire, always purchase your tree as close as possible to the holiday. This will ensure that the tree is fresh and less likely to catch fire. Also, cutting the tree at a 45 degree angle will allow the tree to absorb the most water. Moreover, make sure to fill the tree stand with water at least once a day. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as fire resistant.

Be sure all decorative lights, indoor and outdoor, bear the label of an independent testing laboratory. Inspect lights and throw away sets found to have damaged cords or plugs. Never use indoor lights outside. Use only approved outdoor lights and cords for outdoor decorations. Never overload outlets or run extension cords under carpets, across doorways, or pinched behind furniture. Unplug all decorative lights before leaving home or going to sleep.

Never use lit candles near your Christmas tree, curtains, or any potentially flammable item. Always use a non-tip candleholder before you light them and never leave candles burning unattended or within the reach of small children. Extinguish candles by wetting the wick before you leave the room or go to bed.

Following these tips through the holidays and winter will help to ensure that you and your family will have an enjoyable holiday season!

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This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.

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