CFD: Time to check home heating systems, smoke alarms

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - As cold temperatures embrace the Charleston area, The City of Charleston Fire Department is  offering some safety tips because winter months are usually the busiest for firefighters.

Cooking, home heating systems, heating equipment and associated electrical systems, as well as holiday decorations too close to a heat source continuously are a significant factor in structural fires in Charleston, fore officials say.

Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips and information can help you maintain a fire-safe home and business this winter.

  • Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Inspect electrical systems for overloads.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel such as kerosene, coal or propane produces deadly fumes.
  • Keep young children safely away from space heaters -- especially when they are wearing night clothes or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited. Give space heaters space!

Fire officials also offered up several fire safety reminders:
Kitchen Fires:  Most kitchen fires occur because food is left unattended on the stove or in the oven. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, take a spoon or potholder with you to remind you to return to the kitchen. Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves that can ignite easily. Heat cooking oils gradually and use extra caution when deep-frying. If a fire breaks out in a pan, put a lid on the pan. Never throw water on a grease fire. Never use a range or stove to heat your home.

Space Heaters:  Buy only Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved heaters. Use only the manufacturer's recommended fuel for each heater. Do not use electric space heaters in the bathroom or around other wet areas. Do not dry or store objects on top of your heater. Keep combustibles away from heat sources. Give space heaters space!

Smoking:  We prefer that you don't smoke at all, but if you must - Don't leave smoking materials unattended. Use "safety ashtrays" with wide lips. Empty all ashtrays into the toilet or a metal container every night before going to bed. Never smoke in bed. Don't smoke when drowsy.

Candles:  Keep burning candles out of children's and pet's reach; keep matches and lighters out of sight and locked away. Make sure they are in stable holders. Do not leave candles unattended – especially around children or pets. Do not place candles near draperies or anything that might easily catch fire. Make sure you put out candles when you go to bed or leave the home.

Fireplace Ashes:  Remember never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house. Have your furnace and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned. Chimney tar build-up can ignite your chimney, roof and the whole house.

It is important that all residents know to have a working smoke alarm on each level of a home, have an escape plan and call the fire department from a safe area, preferably a neighbor's house.