OTTUMWA — With winter, including the holiday season, right around the corner, the Ottumwa Fire Department is offering tips for winter heating and holiday safety.
As temperatures continue to dip, Fire Marshal Cory Benge says, “Ottumwans are more likely to have a home fire during the winter months of November through February. The combination of portable heating appliances, increased holiday cooking and candle use have contributed to past fire deaths during the winter months.”
The OFD offers these fire safety tips to get ahead of the winter freeze:
• Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a qualified professional every year, and have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional.
• Check the chimney for creosote build up and use dry, seasoned wood in the fireplace. Have a covered metal container ready to use for disposal of ashes.
• Use portable space heaters with an automatic shut-off and make sure they are placed 3 feet away from anything that can burn, such as paper, bedding or walls. Make sure all appliances, including portable space heaters, are plugged directly into an outlet.
• Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working. Place smoke alarms on every level of the home, including all bedrooms.
• Do not leave any cooking equipment unattended at any time.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with Christmas right around the bend, the OFD also offers these holiday decorating safety tips:
• Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
• Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
• Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Check to make sure they are being used properly.
• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
• Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
• Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
If you are hosting a holiday get-together, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind as well:
• Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
• Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
• Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
• Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
• Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
Contact the Ottumwa fire Department at 641-683-0667 with questions regarding winter or holiday fire safety.