HOME FIX-UP FOCUS: Beware of fire hazards at home

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, preventing fires can save over 4,000 lives and over $8 billion every year.

To help you protect your home and family, fire-safety officials, like the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and building products manufacturers suggest you take the following steps:

— Be especially careful when using electric space heaters. Always check to be sure the system is U.L. approved and follow the manufacturers’ operating instructions carefully. Avoid overloading circuits with multiple extension cords and, above all, never leave a heater operating unattended.

— Be careful where you place a free-standing heater, too. Locate the heater out of traffic lanes where it is likely to be overturned and make sure it is adequately removed from combustible objects such as furniture, draperies and bedding.

— It is not only large heat-generating devices that pose a fire hazard. Small heat sources such as a candle or oil lamp can be equally dangerous. Always be careful with any open flame; keep it away from combustibles and have a fire extinguisher handy.

— If you have a fireplace, you should have your chimney cleaned at least every year, depending upon use, to remove built-up soot and resins that could ignite in the flue and cause a fire. In addition, be sure that the fireplace, damper and chimney were thoroughly inspected at the beginning of the season.

— Do not store firewood directly next to the house and never store it on or under a wooden deck. Instead, keep it covered and dry in a storage area that is detached from the main structure of your home.

Always be sure the wood you burn is cured and dry. Green wood emits more smoke and resins which can build up quickly, even in a freshly cleaned chimney. What’s more, dry wood burns more efficiently.

— Finally, have all of your fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and other fire safety systems inspected regularly.

Fire-safety officials have compiled a more extensive list of fire-prevention steps, including preventive techniques and advice on early warning and escape systems.

The booklet, “Fire Safety-What You Need to Know,” is available free of charge from Alcoa Building Products, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of building products.

To request the booklet, call 1-800-962-6973 or write Alcoa Building Products, Inc., 1501 Michigan Street, Sidney, OH 45365-0057.

North American Precis Syndicate

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