The City of Rolla Fire and Rescue wants to remind residents of the potential fire dangers encountered during the holidays and colder months of the year. The following is a list of safety precautions provided by the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org) that may help you have a safer holiday season:
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, chimney connectors and all other heating equipment inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned as often as inspections suggest. Use only wood that is properly seasoned to reduce creosote build-up.
• When burning wood in fireplaces or wood stoves, it is important to use properly seasoned wood. Green wood has more moisture and is likely to smolder, leading to more creosote build-up.
• Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Allow fireplace and woodstove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container.
• When buying a new space heater, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory, and be sure to have fixed space heaters installed by a qualified technician.
• Portable space heaters should be turned off every time you leave the room or go to bed.
• Have any gas-fueled heating device installed with proper attention to ventilation.
•Test smoke alarms monthly.
• Keep or maintain a 36-inch clearance between space heaters and anything that can burn.
• If you own an artificial tree that is flame retardant, over the years, the flame retardant protective coating can break down. So don’t leave your lights on at night or when you are away from your home. If you have a live Christmas tree, keep it watered at all times.
• Also, if you are planning to use outdoor lights for decorations, ensure that they have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL Listed) label somewhere on the lights. This indicates that they are safe for outside use.
• Electric candles on windowsills can also be a potential hazard if placed directly in contact with blinds or window shades. Always remember to turn them off before going to bed or leaving the house.
“By following a few simple safety rules, we can all have a safer and more accident free holiday season,” said Fire Chief Robert Williams, City of Rolla Fire and Rescue.