Baby, it’s really cold outsidePublished 6:38pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Baby, it’s cold outside, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way into the first of next week. For the past few years, eastern North Carolina has weathered some pretty temperate winters, but now that temperatures plunging down into the low 20s at night, people are looking for additional ways to heat their homes.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. When the temperatures drop, even more are in use. But heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home fires in rural areas every year.
So how to prevent a fire?
Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Chief Robbie Rose advises against leaving any fire burning at night — in a fireplace, in a wood stove — and always have a working fire extinguisher or water readily available in case of an emergency. Never put ashes and other fire debris in any type of plastic or combustible containers — use a metal one and store it far away from the house or other structure.
“One thing you always want to have is a carbon-monoxide detector in the house with wood-burning stove,” explained Rose.
The fire administration’s website recommends using only seasoned hardwood—soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup in chimneys, which could lead to a chimney fire. The same thing applies to air inlets on wood stove: don’t restrict air supply by closing the air inlets on the stoves.
As much as a great, roaring fire gives off a lot of heat (and looks great), smaller fires are preferable to big ones, if only to cut down on the smoke quotient and potential flying embers. It’s always a good idea to keep the immediate area around the fire clear of debris, decorations and any other kind of flammable materials.
Remember that staying warm and staying safe are not mutually exclusive, no matter how far the temperature drops over the next few days.