Our colleagues to the East; The Embrun Fire Department have had the unfortunate task of having to fight two fires within the past week; a house fire on Cloutier Street and the BMR wood storage shed in the centre of the village. The cause of both fires has not yet been determined, however it is thought that the house fire was the result of an electrical problem. Typically cold snaps like the one we just experienced are times of high fire frequency. The increased use and often misuse of heating devices such as small heaters during cold snaps are usually the culprit. Small space heaters are great for heating a cold room but they pose a real danger if they are not used correctly. If you intend to use a space heater do so with a safety-first attitude, some of the things to consider would be; First, check to see if your heater is approved for use by the CSA or ULC, if neither organization has approved the device it would be best not to use the unit. Electrical space heaters should only be plugged directly into a wall socket, in most cases using an extension chord is directly against the manufacturers recommendations. Electrical space heaters draw a significant amount of power and extension chords are not designed to transmit this amount of electricity for an extended period of time. If used, the extension chord will become quite warm, even to the point of melting away the insulating cover. The same concern should be given to older homes that may not have a wiring system designed to transmit the draw required for a space heater. Another good rule to follow for all types of space heaters is that they should not be placed closer than three feet to any objects around them, especially combustible items such as furniture or drapes. This would also include wet clothing, space heaters are not designed to dry clothes and they should never be used for this purpose. Fuel burning heaters such as those that use kerosene or propane offer up even more concerns when being used indoors. Fuel burning heaters all produce carbon monoxide, even if the manufacturer lists the item as being approved for indoor use, CO will be produced and should be a concern. Our recommendation would be simply not to use fuel burning space heaters indoors, however if you must, precautions need to be taken. A working carbon monoxide detector should be used in the room where the heater is placed and keep the detector at least 15 feet away from the heater. Also as with all space heaters, do not leave them left on and unattended. If you leave the home, turn off the heater.
The old superstition is that things happen “in three’s”, considering the two recent fires in Embrun let’s hope this isn’t the case. Many people often have the attitude that “these things can’t happen to me”. Taking into account the amount of fires that have been in the news lately it is happening to people just like us. Be aware and stay safe