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Some fall fire safety tips

Even if major home renovations aren’t on the horizon for this fall, homeowners still should add fire safety to their “to-do” list as the colder weather settles in.

Heading into the fall season, the local fire department sees an “increase in occurrences,” said local fireman and fire safety specialist Wayne Riches, including chimney fires.

As well, they get calls out to houses due to baseboard heaters, space heaters, and furnaces, added Riches.

“Stuff that you haven’t thought about all summer,” he noted.

“We have lots of literature on a variety of fire safety topics—from smoke alarms to safe heating to fire safety checklists,” Riches noted of the resources the fire department has on hand for the public when it comes to making their homes safer.

One of the easiest steps to take this fall is changing your smoke alarm battery when daylight savings time ends Nov. 6.

Alongside a smoke detector, installing carbon monoxide detectors also are a way to keep your family safe as the furnace fires up for the cold months ahead.

“There’s no legislation, but it’s really good to install a carbon monoxide alarm,” stressed Riches, noting that depending on the manufacturers, carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five-10 years.

Riches also said if your home’s carbon monoxide detector does go off, the fire department can do a walk-through of your home

Annual furnace inspections are recommended, as well, to ensure it is running both safely and efficiently.

Those with wood or stove fireplaces also should make sure to inspect or clean the chimney before firing them up for the fall. This includes checking to make sure that stove pipes and connections are all secure, and for signs of rust to make sure that pipes don’t have to be replaced.

Rust, loose bricks, crumbling mortar, dark stains, and white powder all can be signs of problems with your chimney.

Also be sure to check for creosote. This black or brown “gummy” by-product of combustion can catch fire if it builds up inside your flue.

Installing a rain cap, meanwhile, can prevent rain and moisture from getting inside and causing rust.

And as always, be sure that when you’re lighting up the wood stove or fireplace that combustible and flammable items are out of the way.

This also is important as portable space heaters are put back into commission for the winter months.

Keep all flammable items away from the heaters, and don’t use the heaters to dry flammable items.

It’s also important to never use fuel-burning portable space heaters in an enclosed space due to carbon monoxide risks.

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