Preventing fires

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

With temperatures taking dips into the high teens and low 20s, it’s a good time for a reminder to use precautions while staying warm.

Capt. Tim Watson, fire prevention officer for the city of Selma Fire Department, offered some tips to help you and your family stay safe this winter. “One problem we see this time of year is when people start using portable space heaters,” Watson said. “Sometimes they put them too close to their beds or other combustible materials.”

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Space heaters should be three feet from other materials. Watson also said people shouldn’t try to dry wet clothes or towels with a space heater.

While some residents’ only source of heat may be the stove, Watson said, “that’s not the safest practice.

“That will cause problems some times,” he said.

If the stove malfunctions and is not regulating heat properly, it can start a fire.

There is also a danger when materials are placed too close to a stove, Watson said.

Another danger seen this time of year is the use of Christmas lights – particularly when all the lights are plugged into a single extension cord.

“Too many things plugged into an outlet can cause it to overheat,” Watson said.

For those with fireplaces, Watson said the chimneys should be cleaned once a year – prior to the first use.

Also, make sure the flue is open.

Electric blankets can also start a fire, he said. “It’s always a hazard when you get up in the morning and don’t turn it off,” Watson said.

Electric blankets are made to lay out flat. Often, people toss the covers into a ball when they wake up. “If it’s balled up or rolled up, it can overheat and cause a fire,” he said.