Dec. 15, 2009 — With recent extreme cold weather conditions and the need to turn up the thermostat or keep a fire roaring, residents also need to take extra care to make sure they stay safe.
Listening to the police and fire scanner the past week, the news staff has heard both agencies dispatched to various locations to what most times turned out to be insignificant events. One call came from Lassen College, when a student reported a propane smell coming from the creative arts building. Fortunately, the smell was an overpowering odor of poster paints. On first notice that may sound like something to laugh about, but we say, “better safe than sorry."
If you notice smoke coming from anywhere in your home than outside the chimney top, or smell gas, leave your home immediately and call 911. Heating fuels, especially propane and natural gas, can build up and a spark from even a light switch turning on is enough to make the gas explode.
Never leave a wood stove unattended and make sure you have a fire screen in place to catch burning embers. Also make sure you build the fire at the back of the fireplace but only after the chimney (flue) has been inspected by a qualified professional chimney service technician. The technician can tell you if there is a creosote buildup or obstruction in the chimney or flue that may cause a fire or carbon dioxide poisoning. The technician also has the proper equipment to climb the roof.
Those who use heating fuels should ask their distributor to make sure pipes leading from the outside tank to the house are in good condition and all furnaces are in working order. The city of Susanville offers free furnace inspections to its customers. If you don’t think you can afford it, ask your distributor if you can make payments. Your life and the life of your family and pets are worth every penny.
Last, if you use electric heat, including space heaters, keep blankets, and other flammable materials away from the heaters. Also make sure they turn off when toppled over. Many home fires are started by space heaters being left on and when toppled over starting blankets or carpet on fire. If possible use space heaters to warm a room before jumping in bed and have them off while sleeping.
These are just few ways that we suggest our readers get through the cold winter safe. But, our biggest suggestion is to never hesitate to call 911 if you think your home is on fire or you smell gas. We would rather you fell embarrassed at a false alarm than find out you succumbed to smoke or carbon dioxide. Be safe.
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