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Important Home Fire Safety Tips

Make sure you are prepared in the case of a house fire!

Make sure you are prepared in the case of a house fire!

Whether or not you have a fireplace in your home, there is always a possibility of a house fire. If a fire does break out in your home, you may only have as little as two minutes to be able to escape. The best way to protect yourself and your family is the identification and removal of all fire hazards from your home. Another excellent way to protect yourself, your family, and your home is to know and follow important home fire safety tips. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we like to educate our customers on fire safety, and we would like to share with you some fire safety tips we feel are essential.

Install Multiple Smoke Alarms

According to the Red Cross, 60% of house fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms installed. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas. Make it a monthly routine to check your smoke alarms to be sure they are still working properly. Smoke alarms will usually last for at least 10 years; however, you will have to change the batteries to keep them working properly.

Have an Escape Plan in Place

Everyone in your home should know two ways to escape from every room in your home. Designate a meeting place outside the house to be sure everyone has gotten out safely. Use a two-minute time frame when you are planning your escape routes. Practice your escape plan with your family on a regular basis to be sure everyone knows how to proceed if an emergency should occur. Include waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling, and meeting outside during your escape plan practices. Be sure everyone in the house knows how to dial 911. Teach family members how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes happen to catch on fire.

Cook Safely

Never leave the kitchen unattended when cooking, frying, or broiling food, and do not leave your home when roasting, boiling, baking or simmering food. Set a timer to alert you when your food should be done cooking, baking, boiling, or roasting. Keep all flammable items like pot holders, towels, clothing, and plastic away from the stove. Keep all pets off cooking surfaces and counter-tops to prevent them knocking things onto the burners and to protect them from possibly burning themselves.

Practice Common Sense

Keep flammable items at least three feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, and other heating appliances. Turn off portable heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep. Never smoke in bed. Talk to your children on a regular basis about the dangers of fire. Always keep matches and lighters out of reach from children.

Be Aware of the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Just as you do with smoke alarms, install carbon monoxide detector alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas. If one of these alarms goes off to alert you of the presence of carbon monoxide in your home, move quickly to the fresh air outdoors or stand by an open window or door. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or any other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal burning devices inside a home, a garage, basement, crawlspace, or other partially enclosed space.

If you would like to know more home fire safety tips, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps. As part of our responsibilities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we take pride in educating our customers on fire safety procedures and precautions.

By Mike O'Mara on January 30th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

All About Carbon Monoxide

You won't know it's there until it strikes! Avoid CO poisoning through proper chimney care and maintenance.

You won’t know it’s there until it strikes! Avoid CO poisoning through proper chimney care and maintenance.

When you are using your fireplace, you probably give little thought to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning; however, the Chimney Safety Institute of America states that every year over 200 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning due to the toxic gas entering their homes due to venting problems or leaks in their heating or chimney system. Additionally, 10,000 cases of illnesses due to carbon monoxide poisoning are reported every year. Fortunately, proper maintenance of your chimney, including an annual chimney sweep and inspection from a CSIA-certified chimney sweeping company like Weststar Chimney Sweeps, can prevent any possible carbon monoxide poisoning incidents from occurring in your home.

What does carbon monoxide do to you?

Quite simply, too much carbon monoxide in your bloodstream will kill you, and low levels of exposure to carbon monoxide over a period of time can cause many health problems. Unfortunately, when carbon monoxide is in the air, the protein hemoglobin in your blood would rather latch on to carbon monoxide and ignore life-giving oxygen. Because of this, your body will replace oxygen with carbon monoxide, and this causes greater or lesser levels of your cells suffocating, depending on the duration and intensity of the exposure to carbon monoxide. Low-level exposure to carbon dioxide includes serious side effects like permanent organ and brain damage. The elderly, infants, and people with breathing issues are in more danger to carbon monoxide exposure as their immune systems are compromised. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the common cold and flu, so it can take some time to diagnose the true problem. If you continue to suffer from headaches, fatigue, or even depression, ask your doctor to check your blood levels of carbon monoxide.

How does carbon monoxide form in my chimney?

A by-product of combustion, carbon monoxide can be found in both gas and wood-burning fireplaces, stoves, and furnaces. If the combustion process is incomplete, more carbon dioxide is formed. Restricted air flow (closed fireplace doors and an unopened damper) is a cause of incomplete combustion as not enough oxygen is able to get in to burn the fuel completely.

How does carbon monoxide get into my house from my chimney?

Several factors lead to the toxic gas leaking into your home. A damaged or deteriorated flue liner allows carbon monoxide to seep through its cracks. Weststar Chimney Sweeps can easily take care of this problem by restoring a damaged flue liner with HeatShield or even replace your old liner with a new stainless steel liner. Other factors that cause carbon monoxide to enter your home are debris clogs, soot build-up, and animal or birds nests obstructing the chimney flue.

How do I prevent carbon monoxide from entering my house?

The best prevention against carbon monoxide leaks is an annual chimney sweeping and inspection from a CSIA-certified company like Weststar Chimney Sweeps. We will ensure your venting system and flue liner are in good shape, and if not, we provide chimney repair services to fine-tune your chimney so that it works efficiently and safely.

If you have any more questions about the dangers of carbon monoxide, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps, and our staff will be happy to answer them as well as schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection to ensure your home is carbon monoxide-free.