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Heating Your Home Safely

To help reduce the number of home fires; the CAL FIRE Tuolumne – Calaveras Unit and Tuolumne County Fire Department reminds the public all home-heating equipment should be inspected and maintained. They also released the following list of heating problems that are often overlooked:

1.  When was the last time you cleaned the flue?
Chimney sweeps in the area can be found on the internet and in the yellow pages of our local phone book under “chimney cleaning”. Also, flue brushes can be rented from local woodstove dealers for a minimal charge. This is also a good time to inspect the firebox and flue for cracks and damage.

2.  Use Fireplace safely
Use only clean seasoned firewood. Place a screen over the fireplace opening to prevent sparks from igniting flooring in front of the fireplace. Check the spark arrester over the chimney to be certain it is 1/2” mesh. Negligent disposal of fire place ashes is a leading cause of fires near the home. Fireplace ashes can be hot for a week or more; a metal pail or bucket should be used to remove the ashes from the home. After the ashes are outside, they should be mixed with water in the bucket and left well away from any combustibles
until cool to the touch.

3. Inspect all furnaces for obstructions and operation
Have you ever asked “Do you smell something burning” when the heater is used for the first time? Dust and lint can build-up when the furnace is not in use. Clean the duct openings and replace furnace filters to prevent this from occurring.

4. Check all gas appliances
Gas lines should be checked for wear or damage. Check venting of gas appliances for leaks or obstructions. Any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential source for carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is a toxic gas that is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Check your carbon monoxide alarm to make sure it is in proper working order. If you suspect that you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately.

5. Portable heaters pose many dangers
Fuel fired heaters (usually kerosene) are illegal for use in California because they may deplete the oxygen supply in the home and cause asphyxiation. Portable electric heaters can cause fires when they encounter other items, ensure you provide three feet of space around your space heater. Free standing heaters should have a “tip over” shut off switch.

Please take a few minutes to check your heater, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and practice your fire exit drill, to insure your families’ safety. Stop by or call your local fire station for more information or visit our Fire Information section here.