Take small measures to prevent house fires

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

With winter finally getting into full swing in central Alabama, opportunities abound for house fires.

Many fires can be prevented by applying rules-of-thumb for equipment and appliances.

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Mitchell Parker, chief fire inspector for the city of Selma for 15 years, offered tips for preventing house fires for Selma and Dallas County residents, based on patterns he has noticed over the course of his career.

Parker said another thing people tend to neglect is cleaning the lint traps in their dryers. &8220;I have seen several instances where fire smoldered in the dryer and the dryer caught on fire,&8221; Parker said.

Stove fires can happen from grease buildup. Parker recommended keeping them clean and free of buildup, and to also clean the duct filters, which are located over the stove.&8221;If you&8217;re going out, turn the stove off and don&8217;t leave the food cooking,&8221; Parker said.

On long trips, Parker suggested having a neighbor or relative watch the house and keeping all appliances turned off and unplugged. &8220;I&8217;m not talking about your clock here,&8221; Parker said.

Never tape circuit breakers in the &8220;on&8221; position. &8220;They are designed to trip in case of overload,&8221; Parker said.

Parker said to never try to heat a house with a hot plate. &8220;I know some people do what they have to do sometimes, but I don&8217;t recommend it,&8221; he said. He also said it is important to unplug space heaters when leaving the house, and turn off thermostats during periods the house will be unoccupied.

Parker said he advises installing a carbon monoxide detector in the home, which will alert residents when carbon monoxide levels are rising. Parker said the cost for one is about the same as a smoke detector.