With temperatures expected to drop in the coming days, it’s important to inspect fireplaces for leaks before using them as a heat source.
Bill Lamar, the emergency management manager at the St. Joseph Fire Department, reminds residents to perform a safety check on gas and wood-burning fireplaces to make sure they are free of leaks and other hazards.
“Home heating is very important this time of year, yet safety should always come first,” Lamar said. “If you’re using gas fireplaces or any other type of gas to heat your home, make sure your flue is clear and not clogged. It’s also very important to make sure you don’t have any leaks in your gas system, too.”
To ensure that a fireplace does not leak, residents should:
- Check the fireplace for any foul odors
- Listen for hissing or whistling sounds
- Check for dirt on the bottom of the fireplace
- Provide safety screens around the fireplace.
According to the fire department, gas leaks are a common cause of house fires, as is leaving flammable objects near heating systems.
“Household items that you don’t think can catch on fire, most likely can,” Lamar said. “Regardless of the type of heating source you use, make sure there is enough room for any items. We usually say about three feet from curtains or anything that could catch fire.”
The fire service also stressed the importance of carbon monoxide detectors in the home, as carbon monoxide poisoning can be very dangerous.
“You can’t smell or see when carbon monoxide flares up in your home, so it’s important to be aware,” Lamar said. “Small children and the elderly are more at risk of poisoning if they come into contact with this. If you have electric heating or you use space heaters, make sure you have no extension cords and again, a 3-foot range from anything that could catch fire.
Residents are reminded to leave their homes immediately in the event of a fire and to call 112.
“If you see some kind of fire happening that you can’t control, get out of the house,” Lamar said. “First responders will be on scene as soon as possible, but do not go back inside to try and put out the fire. As long as your smoke detectors and batteries are up to date, you’re safe.”