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Chino Valley Fire District offers holiday fire safety tips

The winter season is here and along with the snowfall and cold air, your local fire district would like to share some safety tips.

Smoke Detector Care

Thanks to the presence of smoke detectors in the homes, the threat of fire is often in the back of the minds of many homeowners. These alarm systems warn families of any fire or smoke danger to the house. However, like any tool, detectors cannot function if not properly cared for, and ignoring regular maintenance and care can endanger your home and your loved ones inside.

• Cleaning

Dust and dirt buildup in the sensors and vents of the smoke detector can lead to malfunctioning equipment, from going off when there isn't really a fire to failing to activate when there is one. At least once per month (and preferably at least once every two weeks if you remember), dust off the smoke detector with a dusting cloth or feather duster. You can use a long-armed duster for this, or carefully climb up to the detector.

If you can get on face level with the detector, inspect it and remove all dirt and dust thoroughly; some areas you may not see from the ground can also accumulate dirt and dust.

• Testing

Most smoke detectors feature a test button to determine if your alarm is operating correctly. This test should be conducted once a month and should be loud. If your detector chirps or does not sound the same as your other alarms, perform maintenance check or battery replacement.

• Battery Change

The batteries in your alarm should be changed at least once a year and if at any time it does not function properly. The holidays are always a great reminder to change the battery on your alarms and then you can establish a routine of replacing them every year at the same time.

Portable heaters

According to Pritzker Law, the number one cause of death as a result of equipment failure-initiated fire comes from portable heaters. A little less than 50 percent of the deaths caused by electrical equipment malfunction are caused by portable heaters. Most of these fires are caused by owners not properly maintaining the portable heater or using unsafe portable heaters.

Portable heaters should always be left on a level, hard ground surface to keep the heater from tipping over and igniting a fire.

You should never leave a portable heater on when you are not in the room or in the home.

Clear objects away that may be ignitable. The use of heaters indoors can also pose a carbon monoxide threat, so be sure that ventilation is sufficient and that your home is equipped with a Carbon Monoxide detector.

Christmas Trees

The joy of lighting up a Christmas tree in your home brings smiles to many faces. However, a live Christmas tree can also pose a threat to the safety of your home. The National Fire Protection Association states that one out of every 22 Christmas tree fires results in a death.

If you have a live tree in your home, keep plenty of water in the water basin and ensure that you are keeping all open flame away from the tree.

Make sure that your electrical cords are staying within manufacturer's recommendations, because overloading outlets is a severe fire hazard.

Chino Valley Fire District also recommends keeping a fire extinguisher accessible at all times.

Fireplace Maintenance

No matter whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning unit, regular cleaning is essential if it is to be effective and safe.

Professionals often recommend getting your fireplace cleaned once a year. A professional fireplace cleaner or chimney sweep will check all parts, including the chimney draw, fans, pilots, burners, ignition, combustion and vents.

The ashes from your fireplace will build up fast as the weather gets colder and you use your fireplace more. When cleaning these ashes, be sure to place them in a metal bucket and never store near your home. The ash will remain hot for several days and if wind blows the ashes out, a fire may be ignited.

Indoor Cooking

Using Hibachi cooking systems and smaller charcoal barbecues inside a structure is very dangerous. The byproduct of these heated utilities is carbon monoxide, and they should never be used inside.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and will deplete the oxygen in an enclosed area. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea and vomiting. In case of these symptoms, leave the structure immediately and call 911.

Chino Valley Fire District is always available to answer your home fire safety questions and we encourage you to contact us with any concerns.

For fire safety information call 928-636-2442.

From our family to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season.

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