Captain Lucas Kennedy, with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department
The weather has started to cool down and the furnaces, fireplaces and heaters will soon be put to use. While it’s important to stay warm, the effort to do so can sometimes become dangerous.
Capt. Lucas Kennedy of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department recently spoke with The Gazette about the best ways to stay warm while avoiding fire hazards and other winter hazards.
Q: As the weather begins to cool down, what are some of the things that are starting to show up in people’s homes that can be potential fire hazards?
A: “The use of candles increases during the holiday season and accounts for just over 10% of actual home fires. Candles are quite prevalent. With space heaters there has been great pressure to try to bring people not to plug their space heaters into extension cords. However, people still do, and it’s absolutely something we try to get people not to do. Any type of source heater, whether it’s a Scentsy, a heater, or even a curling iron, anything will produce heat…make sure you only have one of these in your one hold at a time. And of course, always pay attention to the environment around that area. What’s underneath. That includes candles and things like that.
Q: What are some of the ways you recommend people winterize their homes so they can warm up safely?
A: “Preparation is important. If you want to keep warm, you need to make sure your entire HVAC system, the furnace, is working properly. If you have an old school fireplace, make sure you know how to use it and that it has been cleaned appropriately. We get quite a few calls every year where people don’t know how to use the registers, so they start a fire and smoke comes out in the living room. It’s very scary when it happens and it causes a big mess. It really is a health risk.
“I think with the house, the vehicle, everything, when it comes to getting ready for winter, you just have to start on the right foot. Get out at that time and start looking for the things you need: gloves, hats, a coat, a blanket, things like that in the car in case you break down. If you need tire chains, need a heater, or plan on needing extra heaters, go out and buy them now. Don’t wait for him to knock. It’s so surprising every year, you don’t really find… rock salt, things like that. They simply disappear.
“If you’re not sure you can heat your home, can’t afford it, or have problems with your furnace in general, there are local resources, primarily through the (program Hawkeye Area Community Action Center), who can help you set this up. But you have to start this process in late fall. You can’t just call them when the snow is already there. is a long process, but there are federally funded programs here, locally, that can help with that.
Q: What is this program called?
A: “It’s LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). November 1st is when people can start applying for it and it’s on the HACAP website. I’ve referenced this several times with a few different people, normally when we find them heating their house with a gas oven, which of course we tell people absolutely not to do. Massive, massive problems with that. But it is something people can request if they are financially eligible. The process is not necessarily slow, but it is a process. It is not emergency aid. Preparation is key to preparing for winter so you can heat your home.
Q: Are there any holiday supplies or holiday decorations that tend to pose safety risks?
A: “Make sure you dispose of your Christmas tree before it gets too dry, before the needles start to drop and become a fire hazard… For general hazards, we recommend getting on your roof to anything, whether it’s removing ice dams, shoveling snow or putting up Christmas lights, to make sure you have other people at home, in case something happens, ask someone one to spot the scale. At the very least, have a cell phone on you so if the ladder falls or you fall and you are able to call for help, you have a way to call for help at that time -the.
“Make sure when you have your Christmas lights, when you buy them, you take them out of the box and inspect them. Make sure you’re using the correct ones. There are some inside and there are The same goes for extension cords. Some are waterproof, some are not. Some are meant to be outdoors and some are indoors.
“Back to candles, candles are huge at some holiday functions and you just have to make sure you keep an eye on everything. Especially anything that has no real support, like a loose candle that you place in a candlestick. We always like to also point out that Scentsys is not necessarily a safe alternative to candles. These become quite important during the holidays. It’s a low energy bulb so just make sure you don’t have it next to anything combustible and you have something underneath like a coaster or a plate or something that will not conduct heat to a wooden table. or a tablecloth or something like that.
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