As Ontario prepares to be blasted by chilling Arctic temperatures this week, the Hamilton Fire Department is urging the public to keep fire safety in mind when taking steps to deal with the colder winter weather.  

The winter months traditionally see more fires in homes related to heating equipment and appliances. Citizens need to pay close attention to potential fire hazards related to the use of fuel-burning appliances, space heaters and even block heaters in their vehicles.

“Block heaters should be treated just as any other piece of electrical equipment around the home,” explains Fire Chief Rob Simonds. “Cords and connections should be in good repair and caution should be used to ensure circuits are not overloaded.”

Important fire safety tips for cold weather include the following:

· Burn dry, well-seasoned wood in fireplaces and woodstoves to reduce the risk of excessive creosote build-up in chimneys.
· Allow ashes from your woodstove or fireplace to cool before emptying them into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container outside.
· Keep intake and exhaust vents for furnaces and heating appliances free of ice and snow accumulations to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide build-up from inefficient combustion. Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to alert you to the presence of this deadly gas.
· Keep space heaters at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn, including curtains, upholstery, and clothing. When refueling a space heater, turn off the heater, wait for it to cool and refuel it outdoors. Turn off or unplug space heaters when leaving the room, going to sleep or leaving the home. Use only CSA or ULC approved space heaters that are designed for indoor use.
· Replace worn or damaged electrical wires and connections on vehicles and extension cords and use the proper gauge extension cord for vehicle block heaters.
· Consider using approved timers for vehicle block heaters rather than leaving heaters on all night.

The Hamilton Fire Department reminds everyone that the Ontario Fire Code requires smoke alarms to be installed on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. If you require more information about smoke alarms or fire safety, please contact the Fire Prevention Division of the Hamilton Fire Department at 905 546-2424 ext. 1380.

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