‚Äč * * Stay Warm & Safe Reminders * *

Cold weather in the mountain communities sometimes brings the need for home heating, and a little extra help from a fireplace or a space heater. Unfortunately, accidents involving fireplaces and heating equipment are a major cause of preventable home fires. San Bernardino County Fire urges residents to keep safe while they keep warm. Following are some cool weather safety tips to help you stay warm safely.

Fire Safety Tips for Fireplaces and Other Heating Devices

* Before the cold weather arrives, change furnace filters to keep equipment running efficiently and safely.

* Place all space heaters at least three feet away from furniture, walls, curtains, or anything that burns. Make sure to turn them off when you leave home or go to bed. Contact the Gas Company or a heating contractor if you suspect that your heater is not functioning properly.

* Check thermostats to make sure the furnace doesn’t turn itself on before you’re ready for it, and give yourself time to check furnace vents, especially floor vents, to make sure they’re not blocked. Furniture and drapes placed over heating vents can sometimes catch fire.

* Never install unvented gas heaters in bedrooms or bathrooms, where the small room size poses an added danger of rapid carbon monoxide build-up.

* Have your chimneys inspected and cleaned by a professional before each heating season and have it cleaned regularly.

* Be sure to have a proper spark arrester on all chimney tops to prevent burning embers from blowing out of the top of the chimney and starting a fire on your roof or a neighbor’s. Screens should have openings of no more than a half-inch, a quarter-inch if you live next to a wilderness area. If you have a manufactured

fireplace, check with the manufacturer for installation requirements before placing anything on top of the fireplace.

* Never use a fireplace during high winds, especially if you have a wood shake roof.

* Make sure tree branches are cleared at least 10 feet from the chimney opening.

* Store paper, kindling, and other flammable material at least three feet from the fireplace.

* Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container. Cardboard boxes, paper bags, and plastic containers quickly catch fire. Even apparently cool ashes may contain enough heat to ignite these containers.

* Be sure that you have a fireplace screen large enough to block flying embers and rolling logs from escaping onto your floor.