By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — The Fire Department and National Fire Protection Association wanted to educate people about living in a fire-safe environment during the winter season.
Fire Chief Jeffrey Carley said winter is the time when more residents use candles and look for additional ways to warm their houses. He and the department began passing out NFPA fire safety fliers to ensure the proper heating of homes and use of candles during the next few months.
The NFPA said roughly half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December through February and heating equipment is one of the leading causes of house fire deaths. The fliers remind residents to “candle with care” because they are an open flame and can easily ignite anything that can burn.
Carley said candles should be blown out when everyone leaves a room or goes to bed and should be kept at least 12 inches from any flammable material. Candles should never be used during a power outage, he said, and flashlights or other battery-operated lighting should be used.
“The average for reported, candle-related house fires is one every 40 minutes and over one-third of those fires begin in the bedroom,” Carley said. “More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.”
Heating equipment — portable space heaters, furnaces, wood-burning stoves, and fireplaces — should have at least a three-foot space between them and anything that could catch fire. The NFPA said homeowners always should use the right kind of fuel when using a fuel-based space heater and they also should have the heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
Carley said portable heaters, like candles, should not be left in use while a room is unoccupied, and a fireplace should have a screen to prevent sparks from traveling into the room. Portable heaters also should be plugged directly into a wall socket and not plugged into an extension cord, he said, and preferably should have an automatic shutoff feature.
The NFPA recommends installing working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the house, but Carley said smoke alarms should be placed in each bedroom and outside of any sleeping area inside the house.
(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at [email protected])