‚Äč  SAFE Winter Heating 

In Big Bear Valley, Winter weather arrived late this year.  Everyone needs to warm their homes and businesses.  When not functioning properly, heating appliances can start a fire or produce carbon monoxide, a deadly gas.  

The following tips can help you stay warm while remaining safe during the coming weeks: 

Conventional Heating: 

Have a professional check and service your heating system each year.  This not only helps to prevent hazardous situations from occurring, but also maintains the efficiency of your heater. 

Portable Heaters: 

Purchase only those heaters bearing the seal of Underwriters Laboratory (UL), Factory Mutual (FM) or another nationally recognized testing laboratory.  Always use heating appliances according to manufacturer’s specifications.  Make sure electric cords are in good condition.  Adult supervision should always be maintained while space heaters are in use.  Never leave a portable heater on when unattended.

Wood-Burning Stoves, Fireplaces, and Fireplace Inserts: 

Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.  Make sure the damper is open prior to lighting.  Never use flammable liquids or excessive amounts of paper to start or accelerate a fire.  Keep a metal or glass screen in front of fireplace or stove openings to prevent fire and airborne embers from escaping.  Never leave a fire unattended, always extinguish the flames before leaving the house or going to sleep.  Have wood-burning stoves or fireplaces inspected and cleaned by a professional on an annual basis.

Disposal of Ashes: 

Always dispose of ashes into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.  Never put ashes in paper bags of cardboard boxes.  Ashes can retain heat, making them capable of igniting a fire for several days.  Ashes should be thoroughly soaked to ensure they are extinguished.  If ashes are disposed of at a public dumpsite, do not put them in the trash receptacle, but in the dumpster marked for ashes only.

Other Safety Tips: 

Barbecues and hibachis should never be used indoors.  Charcoal gives off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide that are normally dissipated into the outdoors air.  Kerosene heaters can also produce these deadly gases and are prohibited from use in the home.  Never use an oven to heat your home; it can deplete the oxygen level.

Always keep combustibles away from heat sources.  Check the manufacturer’s specifications for clearance distances.  Teach children to stay away from heating appliances.

Prepare a family home fire escape plan for the unfortunate event of a fire.  Know two ways out of every room.  Establish a safe meeting place outside of the home.  Remember to contact 9-1-1 to report the fire once safety has been reached.  Once out, never go back inside. 

Install and regularly maintain smoke detectors in the home, providing coverage of sleeping areas and each level of the home.  Test smoke detectors on a monthly basis and change the batteries twice a year when the time changes in the Fall and Spring.   

Carbon monoxide detectors should also be placed in the home, near sleeping areas, and at the home’s conventional heating source.  For proper operation, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and maintained per manufacturer’s instructions.  Never borrow batteries from detectors.

Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, including flu-like symptoms in its’ poisoning victims.  The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to other illnesses.  Severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea, and/or faintness can all be experienced with moderate exposure.  Death may occur if the victim remains in this atmosphere for a prolonged period of time.  If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, get fresh air immediately and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

By providing regular maintenance to heating appliances and ensuring that they are being used in a safe and proper manner, fire/life safety hazards can be greatly reduced. For additional information on this or other fire/life safety topics, contact the Big Bear Fire Department at 909-866-7566 or visit our website at:  www.bigbearfire.org