It’s feeling more and more like winter outside. Take the cool temperatures and cloudy skies, add in a little wind blowing the leaves off of the trees and the neighborhood starts to smell faintly of chimney smoke.
Since I can remember, that smokey scent signaled the start of the holiday season — at least in my mind. So as you get ready to enjoy the warm glow eminating from your fireplace, Frederick County’s Department of Fire and Rescue Services Personnel offer the following safety tips:
“Change your smoke detector batteries twice a year when you set your clocks forwards or backwards in the fall and spring.” – Firefighter O. Love
A smoke detector cuts your risk of dying in a fire by 50% — but only if it’s working. Firefighter Love says between 2003 and 2006, two-thirds of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no working smoke detectors. 40% of the homes didn’t have a smoke detector at all and 23% had a detector that didn’t go off.
“Don’t leave the stove unattended while you are cooking.” – Firefighter C. Burrelson
Cooking is the number one cause of home fires and injuries. Make sure you turn handles from your pots and pans inward, so they’re not sticking out over the edge of the stove, keep combustibles away from sources of heat, and don’t cook while you’re wearing loose clothing. Also, remember to smother grease fires with a towel — dumping water on it will only spread the flames!
“Smoke detectors need to be replaced every 10 years. Contact your local fire department for smoke detector installation and inspection.” – Lt. Firefighter J. Wade
Be honest. Did you know you needed to replace your smoke detectors every decade? I’ll admit I had no idea — and Lt. Firefighter J. Wade says 88% of the country is in the same ignorant boat. Not sure how old your detectors are? Your local fire station is equipped to install and inspect smoke detectors. Just give them a call (please call the NON-EMERGENCY number — NOT 911).
“Sit down with your family and create a fire escape plan in the event of an emergency. Establish a meeting place outside the house so you can account for all household members.” – Firefighters M. Reda and T. Harner
It doesn’t take long to come up with a plan — you just have to make time to do it. Identify an escape route from every family member’s room to the outside of the building and practice staying low to the ground while getting out of the house. In the case of a real fire, smoke will limit your visibility — Firefighters Reda and Harner suggest practicing walking your escape route with your eyes closed to make sure you’re fully prepared to get out safely.
Here’s to a safe, cozy winter chock full of toasted marshmallows and fireside memories!