In the summer and fall of each year, the Twain Harte Fire and Rescue Department´s primary focus is preventing fires around homes and in forested areas of town.
But come wintertime, that focus shifts to preventing home fires. Recent fires which have destroyed dwellings in Mi Wuk and Sonora have prompted the question, “What can I do to make my home more safe this winter?” Chief Bob Kemvanee says there are many things residents can do to ensure their safety.
• During a power outage make sure to turn off your stove, oven and any appliances that may have been on when the power goes off. It may take hours for the power to be restored and you may forget that your stove or appliances were on at the start of the outage. This could lead to over heating and cause a fire.
• Keep your chimney clean in the winter. A fire in your flue could lead to a roof or attic fire and can burn undetected for hours. If you have a flue fire, always call your local fire department and have them evaluate the situation to make sure the fire hasn´t spread. There is no charge for this and it can save you and your house. You should have your chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year, but how often you clean it depends on what kind of wood you burn and how often you use your fireplace.
• Electric blankets can overheat if things are piled on top of them or if they are left on too long. Always make sure to turn them off when you are going away from home. Check your cords at the plug for any signs of fraying or breakage.
• Avoid the use of accelerants in your home and never use accelerants to start a fire. Sadly, the recent use of an accelerant to start a fire caused a fatality in our area.
Reprinted with permission from Sierra Mountain Times