Clean chimneys and smoke alarms a must, says fire chief

Smoke alarms save lives but they should also be checked regularly. (File photo)
Smoke alarms save lives but need to be checked regularly and replaced when they expire. (File photo)

Winter’s arrival has Houston Volunteer Fire Department chief Jim Daigneault advising those who burn wood to take necessary precautions and be ready in case of emergencies.

Wood being burned now should be dry and have been stacked so that air could flow in and around the layers so that seasoning can take place.

And before lighting a fire for the first time in the season and throughout the next months, residents should make sure chimneys are clean of built up creosote and free of nests from birds or small animals.

“Residences should have working fire and smoke alarms and these should be tested regularly,” said Daigneault.

And residences should also have CO detectors to warn of the presence of the odorless yet deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Daigneault also notes that alarms do have an expiry date and that residents should replace them when they do expire.

Smoke alarms should be installed away from a kitchen, generally 10 feet from a stove or other cooking appliance. And they should be installed in every sleeping area of a residence.

Fire extinguishers are also advised by Daigneault and these, like smoke alarms, should be checked so that their owners know when they expire.

One of the more prevalent causes of residential calls is a grease fire on a stove.

But Daigneault warns against trying to douse it with water, saying that will only cause it to accelerate.

A fire extinguisher close by is recommended or residents can use baking soda that is handy as well.