This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
As we transition from Northern Nevada’s fall colors to the colder winter months, the Carson City Fire Department would like to share a few winter safety tips to help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable winter.
Did you know that home fires increase during the winter months, with December and January being the peak month’s nationally? The two leading causes for home fires during the winter are cooking-related and heating sources such as fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters. The good news is these fires are fairly easy to prevent.
Cooking fires most often start when they are left unattended, especially when hot grease is involved. To prevent these fires from occurring or spreading, do not leave anything cooking on your stovetop unattended. Also, never throw water on a grease fire; this will cause the fire to spread! If a fire occurs in your oven, turn the heat off and call 911! Be sure to leave the oven door closed, as it will keep the fire contained to the oven.
As an added safety precaution, we recommend having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area, just in case.
When it comes to fireplaces and wood stoves, it is recommended that you have them cleaned and inspected annually. A chimney that has cracks in the flu can lead to a devastating attic fire. Attic fires can go undetected for an extended period of time and can cause significant damage to your home. Space heaters are safe to use for temporary heating as long as you keep the area clear around the heater. It is not uncommon for your fire department to respond to a house fire that is caused by clothes or other items that are too close to a space heater.
With the holiday season upon us, it is also important to prevent fires from occurring with our home decorations. Christmas trees can be a significant fire hazard. Nationally there are over 200 home fires and six fatalities that involve Christmas trees each year. If you have a natural Christmas tree it is important to water the tree daily to keep it from dying out, only used UL approved lights that are in good condition, and keep open flames or other heat sources (such as candles, fireplaces, space heaters, etc.) at least three feet away.
Since we are talking fire safety, it is important to ensure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. If you have battery-only alarms, we recommend you replace the battery annually, even if the battery is still working. If you do not recall the last time you changed the battery, now is the time to refresh your safety system with new batteries.
Fires are not the only hazard during the winter months. Power outages occur more frequently during the winter because of severe winter storms. The time to prepare is before an outage happens. To prepare, make sure you have enough flashlights for everyone in your residence. We do not recommend using candles for light due to the potential for candles to start a fire. You should also keep at least a three-day supply of food and water for each person (and pet) in your home in the event of a long-term power outage.
If you have any questions related to winter safety, fire prevention, and life safety, please contact the Carson City Fire Department at 775-887-2210. You can also follow CCFD on Twitter @CarsonFireDept or follow Chief Slamon @21engine. The staff at Carson City Fire Department wish you a safe and enjoyable winter season!
Sean Slamon is the fire chief at the Carson City Fire Department.