When the temperature goes down the thermostat goes up.

Let’s discuss safety in the home. Half of home fires occur from heat related appliances during the months of December, January and February (for obvious reasons). Accidents happen; however, accidents can be prevented - here are a few tips to help prevent an accidental fire in your home:

1. Heating appliances - Plug only ONE into an outlet; do not use an extension cord or a power strip. Keep the heating appliance at least 3 feet from furniture, curtains or other non-fire retardant items. Ensure that a portable heater cannot be knocked over by a child or a pet. Turn it off when you leave your home. If you have an older heating appliance, consider getting a new one.

2. Chimney Fires – Be proactive - is the chimney cleaned? Is it solid; not rusted out? Your chimney should be inspected and cleaned. Animals could have built nests in your chimney, vegetation could have grown over it – take the time and inspect the chimney and be careful when going on the roof and using a ladder!

3. Fireplace, wood stoves - when removing ashes, put the ashes in a METAL approved container, and store them outside, away from your house. Do not discard ashes in the garbage, as hot coals could cause a fire up to a week later! Do not vacuum ashes, as an ember could cause a fire in your vacuum cleaner bag. Ensure that furniture, drapes, blankets are at least 3 feet away from the heating source. Keep any items that can be knocked over away from the heating source

How about the barn; are your animals safe? Union and the surrounding areas are farming communities with frequent barn fires. Fire safety needs to extend from the home, into the barn. The leading cause of a barn fire is heating equipment. Below are a few tips to help protect your barn and your livestock:

1. Heat lamps and portable heaters are dangerous, if not reviewed properly. Free-hanging heat lamps need to be secured and cords need to be kept out of reach of animals, and of fowl that may fly into them, or knock them down.

2. Have large ABC Fire extinguishers placed throughout the structure. Quick response may extinguish a fire, and save the lives of your animals and your property.

3. Consider purchasing a smoke monitoring device that can be installed with external audio or even smart-phone apps that will alert to a fire. These smoke detectors can be damaged by dust in the barn, so a monthly inspection should be part of maintenance.

4. Do what you can to eliminate the use of extension cords, and prevent cords from being accessible to animals or lying on the ground where they can be damaged.

5. Spontaneous combustion of hay and bulk grain is responsible for less than 5% of these fires - if practical, minimize the risk of this type of fire by storing away from the main structure.

Be safe and have a Merry Christmas from the Union Fire Protection District. 

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