Dave Wallace: Tips for winter safety awareness
January 9, 2018
While biking through town during the warmer afternoon temperatures, I occasionally see or smell the smoke of a wood-burning stove. I can't help but wonder if the home owner has taken measures to assure the safety of his or her family and property as another piece of wood is added to the fire box. I would like to remind the community of several items of awareness as the days begin to get longer.
• Keep combustible items a safe distance from the stove or fire place,
• For your wood burner to operate efficiently, there must be adequate ventilation. Make sure there is an area where fresh outside air can enter the house.
• Perform regular maintenance on the chimney pipe. Burning wood or coal will leave deposits of soot and creosote behind, increasing the risk of a chimney fire or the backup of deadly gases in the residence. These deposits should be scrubbed out regularly with a chimney brush.
• Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly to assure proper operation. The New Year is always a good time to install new batteries.
• Always have a fire extinguisher available and located in an area of easy access.
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If you are unable to perform these inspections and maintenance, please seek assistance from a competent party.
I know an individual who once started the engine on an air compressor in his garage, then returned to the house while the compressor charged the air tank. Several minutes later, he reentered the garage with the intention of shutting the unit off. While walking toward the compressor, he felt his knees getting weak, and a feeling of numbness came over him as he fell to the floor.
This individual was able to crawl to fresh air. He then spent the next several hours under an oxygen tent. He and his family were fortunate; many are not. There are several deaths every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, Carbon monoxide is the product of incomplete combustion and is not visible, nor does it have a smell; it is only detectable with a meter.
• Never operate an internal combustion engine in a confined space, and always pull your vehicle out of the garage when it is running.
• Make sure the fresh air source necessary for all gas fired appliances within the home is open and unobstructed.
• The installation of a carbon monoxide/explosive gas detector is a recommended addition to any residence operating natural gas appliances.
• If you suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, please have your residence tested.
As we move into the latter half of winter, stay safe, and don't forget to get a little exercise.