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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Jan 16

Let’s Be Winter Wise in Newport News

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 9:37 AM by Communications Department

A message from the Newport News Fire Department 

As we continue through the winter season, more of us are turning up our heaters or finding other ways to warm our homes.  The Newport News Fire Department is encouraging everyone to keep fire safety in mind during these cold months.
Electric space heaters are some people’s first choice in heating their home. They are easy to use and easy to set up wherever you need them; however, there are some important things to consider. First, be sure you only use electric space heaters that are UL listed. This means that they have met certain testing requirements. Secondly, check to make sure that the electrical cord on the appliance is in good shape - that there are no breaks, cuts, or frayed ends in the cord. If you can see the wires, you should not use the appliance. And be sure to plug the heater directly into a wall and not into an extension cord. Many extension cords are unable to handle the electrical load of a heater. Also, be sure your model has a safety device that will cut it off automatically if it is tipped over. You will be able to rest better knowing that if for some reason it gets knocked over, it will turn itself off automatically. Finally, try to use a space heater that does not have an exposed heating element.

Even a space heater that passes all of these requirements still might not be safe if you don’t use it correctly.  All space heaters should be kept an arm’s distance away from anything that can burn - at least 2 or 3 feet. This should include paper, furniture, wall paper- and children and adults. Never leave young children alone in a room with a space heater. Also, try to keep your heater away from doorways or other exits. If a fire does occur, you might need that door as your way out. Whenever you go out or when you go to bed, be sure to turn off all portable heaters. 

If you use a kerosene heater, make sure the appliance is in good working order. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up and make sure there is proper ventilation. Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer and NEVER use gasoline in a kerosene heater.  Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside the house. NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. 

Carbon monoxide detectors can add a level of protection but are not a substitute for the proper use of equipment. Carbon monoxide detectors measure the amount of CO gas that has accumulated. Purchase only CO detectors that are UL listed and follow the manufacturer’s instruction for installation and maintenance. 

In addition to electric or gas heaters, for some of us, the winter means using wood burning appliances like fireplaces and wood stoves. Always make sure that your fireplace is cleaned annually to remove creosote that builds up and is very flammable. Other ways to keep your wood-burning appliance safe includes burning only wood. Never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float up the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. And never use gasoline, lighting fluid or flammable liquids inside to kindle or revive a fire. Flammable vapors from the liquid can quickly travel across a room and ignite.

Be sure that you have glass doors or a tight-fitting screen in front of the fireplace to protect from sparks. Empty the ashes out of the fireplace, but use metal containers. Wet them down with water to make sure they are cold before throwing away. And as always, use candles with care, keeping them away from drapes and upholstered furniture. Never leave candles unattended.           

Keep your home safe by continually practicing fire prevention.  Ensure your house is protected with enough working smoke alarms, and your family has a home escape plan and regular safety drills. Have a fire safe winter!  If you have any questions, contact Newport News Fire Department’s Public Education office at 757-247-2332.