HFD Offers Fire Safety Tips for Winter

Houstonians are finally turning off the air conditioner. But before you turn on the furnace, fireplace or space heater, make sure they're ready to be used. A few safety tips will go a long way this winter. Pat Hernandez has more.
According to the Houston Fire Department, each year, about a hundred fires are blamed on faulty furnaces and space heaters. Captain Beda Kent is manager of the HFD's public affairs division. She's been busy fielding calls about keeping safe and warm during the winter months ahead. She says the thermostat is a good place to start.

"If you have a furnace where you could easily switch off at the thermostat from heat to cold and cold to heat, you forget that it hasn't been running all summer long, so it has dust accumulated on it. When that takes place, you might wonder what is that burning? Don't fear. It's the dust that has accumulated over the summer, that is going to be burnt off within the next day or the next couple of hours. So don't worry about that.  Make sure you definitely have a working smoke detector in your home at all times."

For that matter, it's a good idea to put your defense to the test.

"Test that smoke detector. Test that carbon monoxide detector, especially if you have gas running into your home.  Having the gas stove or gas furnaces, gas space heaters, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector as well as your working smoke detector."

Also make sure your fire extinguisher is in working order. Kent says space heaters...need space to function properly.

"And that means all the way around, three feet away from the walls, away from the sofas, away from the curtains, anything that could possibly be combustible. Three feet away from anything. And, never leave children alone where a space heater is being taken care of in that room."

Never mount space heaters on anything, do not use extension cords on them, and never cover the cord with a rug or anything that might be a trip hazard. Fireplaces and chimneys must be inspected and cleaned regularly. Check the flue for obstructions and trim any overhanging tree limbs near the chimney. Kent says good fireplace habits decrease fuel consumption and not warmth.

"You want to be very cautious of placing your logs where they should be properly fit for the fire to be built and, on a grate. Make sure you have the coverings for the chimney itself as well."

Never leave a fire unattended...and be sure the fire is extinguished is extinguished before you go to bed. More safety tips can be found at www.houstontx.gov/fire.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez


Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...