Heat-related fires a real threat

“With hot summer weather upon us, everyone needs to be pay attention to what can cause a fire, either in a structure or outdoors, and work towards preventing a fire” cautions Unit Chief Kelly Keenan of the Amador-El Dorado Unit of Cal Fire. “There are several large fires burning in the northern part of California which are causing a drawdown of our firefighting resources, this means we may have less equipment to respond to a local fire. It is everyone’s responsibility to be extra vigilant at times like this.”

Things to check for that may cause a fire: 

• Old electrical wiring or illegal electrical work can overheat and cause a fire when there is an increased demand on the wiring due to hot summer days. Have a licensed electrician make sure your wiring is up to code.

• Debris piles that were not extinguished completely, they can smolder underground for day, weeks or even months then surface and cause a wildland fire which can catch your home on fire. Check old burn piles and make sure they are not still hot. Use a shovel and lots of water to drown the fire out. Don’t forget, burn permits have been suspended.

• Make sure propane tanks are properly installed and maintained. Contact your propane dealer for advice. If you use a small propane tank for your barbeque, make sure it is properly installed and maintained. If it’s in need of repair, don’t delay.

• Properly store and secure all flammable liquids such as gasoline, propane, linseed oil, etc. Do not store them in a garage that is attached to your home.

• Do not use a riding lawn mower to cut dead, dry weeds as this can cause the lawn mower to catch fire as well as the wildland. They are designed to cut green grass not dead vegetation.

• Make sure all gas-powered equipment (chainsaws, weed eaters, lawn mowers, etc.) are in good working order including a spark arrestor. Do not use gas-powered equipment after 10 am or before 7 pm, in fact when the weather is extremely hot, do not operate gas powered equipment at all, wait for cooler weather to arrive.

• Do not drive off into the weeds as your vehicles hot exhaust system can cause a fire when it comes into contact with the underside of your car, truck, ATV, etc.

• Never leave food cooking on a stovetop or in an oven unattended. If you must leave, take a timer, or cooking implement with you to remind yourself. Cooking fires cause nearly 90 percent of kitchen fires.

• Never leave candles or incense burning unattended. Blow out the candle or incense before leaving the room, even for a few minutes.

• Make sure your electrical outlet is not overloaded and use surge protectors as needed.

• Never run electrical cords under throw rugs or area carpets. Do not string two pronged extension cords end to end to reach an appliance, television, etc. They are not designed for this use and can overheat and cause a fire. Invest in a grounded (three prong) extension cord that is designed for your needs.

“I strongly encourage everyone to take a few minutes and walk through your home and garage and make sure it is fire safe,” said Keenan. “If you find that there are things you need to correct, get them done now before it is too late. Cal Fire is always ready to respond to emergencies of any kind 24/7, but it is heartbreaking when we see someone’s home destroyed by a fire that could have been prevented.”

For more information on fire and life safety visit fire.ca.gov or contact Cal Fire at (530) 644-2345 for free fire prevention materials.

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Posted by on Jul 13 2012.
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