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Furnaces and fire prevention, is your home safe?

FILE - A 3 alarm fire consumed much of an apartment near 3300 S and 350 E in South Salt Lake. Screenshot Derrick Hepworth

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –  October is fire prevention month, do you know if your home ready for the cooler weather? With the colder weather on its way, furnaces and space heaters are starting to sputter back to life and could pose a big fire danger if they malfunction.

KSL-TV spoke with Dave White with The Home Depot he had some tips to help keep you safe. 

Fire prevention tips

One of the first things White says is to make sure to check on fireplaces and chimneys. 

Another spot to look at is space heaters. They’re great at heating up a room, but White says if you aren’t careful they can start a fire. 

Dryer vents are something that can also be neglected and is often overlooked by homeowners, White says they also need to be checked as they can back up with lint and start fires. 

Another recommendation is to check on your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. It’s recommended to change the batteries in your smoke detectors during the time changes that come with daylight savings, with a full replacement of smoke detectors every ten years. 

Utah Department of Public Safety has more tips for staying safe. 

Candles can be a safety concern if not handled carefully. Here are some safety tips:

  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Use sturdy, safe candleholders.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave a room.
  • Be careful not to splatter wax when extinguishing a candle.
  • Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Always use a flashlight, not a candle, for emergency lighting.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles.

A few heating tips:

  • If at all possible it’s recommended to have a professional install your heating equipment.
  • It’s recommended to have heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year.
  • Make sure all heating equipment is properly vented to the outside of your house, also be sure the vents are cleared of snow or other obstructions. 
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.  
  • Be certain to keep at least 3 feet between space heaters and items that are flammable, such as paper or bedding. 
  • Supervise children around heaters. Burns are more common than fires. 
  • If you need fuel assistance you can call 1-202-824-0660.

If you smoke: 

  • Only smoke outside.
  • Use fire-safe cigarettes, they are less likely to start a fire. 

Wood burning stoves and fireplaces

  • Use only dry and well-seasoned wood. 
  • Only use newspaper and kindling wood to start a fire, never flammable liquids such as lighter fluid or gasoline.
  • Allow ashes to cool before you dispose of them. 
  • Use a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace.

P-A-S-S

White suggests remembering the acronym “PASS” if there is ever a fire that breaks out in your home. “‘P-A-S-S’ stands for ‘pull,’ pull the pin,” he said. “‘Aim’ at the base of the fire. ‘S’ for ‘squeeze,’ either the trigger or the handle of the extinguisher. The other ‘S’ is for ‘sweep,’ so you sweep it back and forth at the base of the fire until the fire’s extinguished.”

In the past 5 years, there have been over 350,000 fires in the US, and in those fires over 2,600 fatalities. 

Almost half of those fires were from cooking accidents, and around 15% were from home heating issues.