Stay safe during storm season

Home safety is a concern during power outages and winter storms as many people find alternative ways to stay warm and light their homes, according to fire safety officials.

Kerosene heaters and oil for lamps were sold out at Carson area hardware stores Monday.

Assistant Fire Chief Steve Mihelic of the Carson City Fire Department had tips for residents as the area continued to suffer the most substantial storm of the season Monday.

If using a kerosene heater, do not attempt to replace the fuel with any other liquid, Mihelic said, as it can present an extreme fire hazard. "By all means it is not OK," he said.

Burning kerosene or other lamps can give off carbon dioxide so the home should be well-ventilated. Open a window or allow fresh air to circulate, Mihelic said.

Fireplaces and wood stoves are not as good a heat source, but residents should use all safe fireplace practices.

People "should realize they're not going to get a ton of heat off those things," Mihelic said.

Portable cooking devices should be placed on an even surface. Cooking on a barbecue outside is probably the best idea, he said, as long as it is a safe distance from the house.

If lighting is needed, it is best to use flashlights or portable lanterns, Mihelic said. Candles would be his last choice for safety reasons.

Safety officials agree with the warning. In 1998, the latest year for which data is available, candles in homes caused more than 12,500 fires, reaching a 19-year high, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those fires resulted in 155 deaths, 1,100 injuries and $176.1 million in direct property damage, according to association.

To prevent candle fires:

-- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.

-- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire, such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees or flammable decorations.

-- Use sturdy candle holders that won't tip over easily and are large enough to collect dripping wax.

-- Place holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface. Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by children or pets, or near blinds and curtains that can close or blow over them.

-- Keep candlewicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn within 2 inches of the holder.

-- Avoid candles embedded with combustible items such as leaves, flowers and twigs.


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