When the rains set in, people make comments like, “You must be thankful the rains are here. This must be your slow season.” We just don’t have a slow season in Ashland. While we certainly are thankful that the rains have quelled fire season for now and are hopeful for plentiful snow in the watershed, we need to turn our attention to indoor fire hazards.
This is the time of year that we turn on heaters, stoke the fire and begin cooking inside again. This is the time for residents to be diligent of heat production sources in the home. Here’s a list of a few things that you can do to make sure that you keep your home or apartment as safe as possible:
• Smoke alarms — Place smoke alarms in each bedroom, in the hall leading to the bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Make sure your smoke alarms are working by testing them monthly. Never disable them or remove their batteries.
• Carbon monoxide alarms — If you have a carbon monoxide source such as gas, oil or wood or a door that leads from the garage to your house, you should have carbon monoxide alarm near your bedrooms.
• Cooking — Cooking is the number-one cause of home fires, and this is the time of year that we see an upswing. The number-one thing you can do to prevent a home cooking fire is to keep an eye on your cooking. Don’t get distracted. Unattended cooking causes the most home fires. Frying poses the greatest risk, and Thanksgiving is the peak day in the country for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas and Christmas Eve.
• Portable space heaters — Keep these at least three feet from combustibles like clothes, towels, newspapers and boxes. These are meant to be used for temporary heating sources for small spaces. Don’t leave them on all the time or when you leave the house, and don’t try to heat the whole house. If your heat source fails, NEVER use an outdoor fueled appliance as an indoor heat source.
• Candles — Battery operated candles are much safer. There are some very realistic looking battery powered candles on the market today, and they pose no open flame threat. If you can’t part with the wax candle and flame, assure it is not near combustibles (paper, fabric, curtains, books, wood), and do not leave the room or go to sleep while the candle is burning. We have seen many candles start fires here in Ashland. If you have ever left the house or a room with a candle burning, maybe it’s time to make the switch to battery operated candles.
• Lighting — Never use frayed or exposed lights. Light sections that don’t work should be thrown away. Don’t coil and place light weight extension cords under your furniture or tree.
• Christmas and holiday trees — Yes, crazy that we would be talking about this already, but many will be putting up a tree before the next column is published. If you select a live tree, make a new cut about 1 or 2 inches from the base of the trunk. This will let the tree soak up water. Keep water in the stand. Keep heat sources at least three feet from the tree. When your tree starts dropping needles, get rid of it.
Check our website at www.ashland.or.us/holiday for more helpful tips.
—Email Ashland Fire & Rescue Fire and Life Safety Division Chief/Fire Marshal Ralph Sartain at firstname.lastname@example.org.