Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

January 23, 2014

Play it safe

Threat of house fires increases in cold weather

When the weather turns frigid — as it has in recent days — the danger of fires is always heightened.

Firefighters responded to a flue fire at a Cresaptown restaurant only a few days ago, and an entire block in Piedmont, W.Va., was consumed earlier this month by a fire that the state fire marshal said began when a resident began using an open flame to thaw copper pipes.

 Over the next week, temperatures will range from into the single digits to the low 30s, and that will be complicated by wind chill.

Here are some tips from the state fire marshal’s advice on ways to prevent cold weather residential fires:

• Ensure chimneys are cleaned annually or more frequently if used as the primary heating source.

• Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire. Only use combustible materials like newspaper, kindling or approved fire starting products to safely create a fire in a fireplace or woodstove.

• Use properly sized fireplace screens or enclosures.

• When disposing of cooled ashes, do not use paper or plastic containers to remove them, instead use a metal container. Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out.

• Make sure fuel burning stoves and heaters are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

• Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.

It is never too late to check chimneys or furnaces. What you find may well save your life — or someone else’s.

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