2009-10-29 / Local & State

Residents: Prepare For Cooler Weather

October is fire prevention month
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

With chilly autumn weather already upon us, residents are not only reminded to begin making preparations for the use of residential heaters ranging from furnaces and wood stoves to electric space heaters but to take that extra lifesaving step and change the batteries in their smoke detectors.

October is fire prevention month, according to Mc- Connellsburg Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Larry “Pete” Lynch and Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal M.B. Gordon, and homeowners as well as renters need to take this time to ensure additional safety precautions are made to ensure their residences are ready for these cool mornings and even colder nights.

“It’s common for individuals to turn on heaters in the mornings or at night to warm the inside of their houses. These heaters have been dormant all summer and need to be cleaned and inspected prior to use,” stated Gordon.

“Many residents feel their heating system worked fine last heating season and that it is an unneeded expense to have the furnace serviced and inspected or have their chimney cleaned and inspected. Every year I investigate many fires that leave families displaced with nothing,” Gordon said. “These families are forced to move into a motel or with family members while the insurance companies investigate the fire, repair the home and replace the families belongings. The price that you pay now can save you much more later.”

In conjunction with Gordon’s reminder, Lynch said the Mc- Connellsburg Volunteer Fire Co. is continuing to provide home safety inspections of both chimneys and flues. While there is no charge for this service, donations are certainly welcomed. Furthermore, the company is also offering free smoke detectors in its coverage area to senior citizens and families with children who may be otherwise unable to afford the purchase.

“Most residents feel that a fire would never happen in their homes. It is extremely important that smoke detectors be installed in every residence. The cost of a simple smoke detectors is $10. For one small investment you can save your family and your family’s belongings,” added Gordon and Lynch.

In addition to safety checks, members of the fire company accompanied by Smokey Bear traveled to area schools and daycare centers during Fire Prevention Week between October 5 and October 9 to lecture local children on the ins and outs of fire safety. All kids were given fire prevention kits and were allowed to tour the company’s equipment. Some children, the fire chief added, were also afforded the opportunity to use an actual fire hose.

Tips for home heating inspections

Electric heaters should be checked for loose debris that could have fallen against the baseboard heating elements since their last use. The exterior should also be cleaned and double checked that no furniture or curtains are in contact with the heater.

Heat pumps should be visually inspected to determined if shrubbery or other items have fallen against the units. Inside cold-air return filters should be changed, while vents should be dusted and cleared of obstructions.

Fuel oil/gas furnaces must be inspected and cleaned by a trained technician. Do not fix any problems or make adjustments yourself!

Fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected by a licensed chimney sweep. Don’t forget to use a heavy screen in front of the fireplace when it is in use!

Wood stoves cause more fires than any other heat source. Never put anything besides seasoned firewood in your stove. The use of other products could cause the flue or ventilation pipe to become clogged.

Information provided by the McConnellsburg Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal’s Office.

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