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Staying safe this winter

When winter rains set in, firefighters often hear comments like, “You must be thankful the rains are here. This must be your slow season.” It may be a surprise, but we don’t have a slow season in Ashland.

Your firefighters and paramedics responded to more than 4,100 emergency calls last year. While the rain and needed snowpack will limit the number of outdoor fires we have, the threat of an indoor fire increases.

This is the time of year we turn on heaters, stoke fires, and get creative in the kitchen.

Here’s a list of a few things you can do to make sure you and your friends & family keep your home or apartment as safe as possible:

n Smoke Alarms — Place smoke alarms in each bedroom, in the hall leading to the bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Make sure your smoke alarms are working by testing them monthly. Never disable a smoke detector.

n Carbon Monoxide Alarms — If you have a carbon monoxide source such as natural gas appliances, oil or wood burning stoves, or a door that leads from the garage to your house, you should have a carbon monoxide alarm near the bedrooms.

n Cooking — Cooking mishaps are the No. 1 cause of house fires. This is the time of year we see an upswing in these types of calls. Unattended cooking is the biggest culprit followed by food frying. Remember, oil will catch fire if it gets too hot.

n Portable Space Heaters — Keep these at least 3 feet from combustibles like clothes, towels, newspapers and boxes. These are meant to be used as temporary heating sources for small spaces. Don’t leave them on all the time or when you leave the house, and don’t try to heat the whole house with them. Finally, if your heat source fails, NEVER use an outdoor-fueled appliance as an indoor heat source.

n Candles — Let’s just say that battery-operated candles are much safer. There are some very realistic looking battery-powered candles on the market today, and they pose no open-flame threat. If you can’t part with the wax candle, then assure it is not near combustibles (paper, fabric, curtains, books, wood), and do not leave the room or go to sleep while it’s burning. We have seen many candles start fires. If you have left the house or a room with a candle burning, maybe it’s time to make the switch to the battery-operated candles.

n Christmas and Holiday Trees — If you select a live tree, make a new cut about 1-2 inches from the base of the trunk. This will let the tree soak up water. Keep water in the stand. When you change the water for your pets, add water to the tree. Keep heat sources at least 3 feet from the tree. Use lights that are in good repair with no broken or damaged wires. If the tree starts dropping needles, it’s time to get rid of it.

Check our website at www.ashland.or.us/holiday for other helpful holiday tips.

Happy holidays, Ashland!

Kelly Burns is a Battalion Chief/Paramedic with Ashland Fire & Rescue

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