Emergency Management Information
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- Safety Tips to Prevent Space Heater Fires
- Tips to Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather
- Tips on Preventing Chimney Fires
Address211 E. Newton St. Versailles, MO 65084
Keep your pets inside as much as you can when the mercury drops. If you have to take them out, stay outside with them. When you're cold enough to go inside, they probably are too. If you absolutely must leave them outside for a significant length of time, make sure they have a warm, solid shelter against the wind, thick bedding, and plenty of non-frozen water. Try leaving out a hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel so it won't burn your pet's skin.
Some animals can remain outside safely longer in the winter than others. In some cases, it's just common sense: long-haired breeds like Huskies will do better in cold weather than short-haired breeds like Dachshunds. Cats and small dogs that have to wade shoulder-deep in the snow will feel the cold sooner than larger animals. Your pet's health will also affect how long she can stay out.
Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances can compromise a pet's ability to regulate her own body heat. Animals that are not generally in good health shouldn't be exposed to winter weather for a long period of time. Very young and very old animals are vulnerable to the cold as well.
Regardless of their health, though, no pets should stay outside for unlimited amounts of time in freezing cold weather. If you have any questions about how long your pet should be out this winter, ask your veterinarian.
A lot of damage to your home can come from frozen pipes, if they burst, especially if you’re not home when it occurs.
When buying a heater, look for one that has been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc. (UL).
Keep the heater 3 feet away from drapes, furniture or other flammable materials.
Place the heater on a level surface away from areas where someone might bump into it and knock it over.
Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty cord marked with a power rating at least as high as that on the label of the heater itself.
Space heaters are for temporary use only. Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
Supervise children and pets when a space heater is in use.
Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
The sale and use of unvented kerosene heaters is illegal in Massachusetts.
WHILE THESE FIRES ARE NOT FREQUENT, THEY ARE DEADLY.
One of every 20 space heater fires causes a fatality. These fires caused three civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, 12 fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $3 million. The average dollar loss for a space heater fire is $50,000. Twenty-six percent (26%) of these fires were caused when combustible materials such as bedding, magazines, newspapers, clothing or furniture were too close to the heater, and another 3% were caused when rugs, carpets or mats were under or too close to the heater.
- Disconnect outdoor water hoses
Faucets that are not freeze proof need to be covered or insulated to protect them from sub-freezing temperatures. Be sure that freeze proof faucets are drained dry once the valve is shut off. Any trapped water in an exposed faucet spells trouble, even if the faucet is labeled as freeze proof.
- If you have a well
If your water is supplied by a well, take precautions to keep the pump and tank from freezing. The tank and pump should be covered. In cases of prolonged cold weather, place a light bulb in the pump house. Assuming that all the holes and cracks in the pump house are sealed, the warmth from the light will usually prevent freezing.
- Seal holes and cracks in older homes
Homes that were constructed fairly recently are usually insulated enough to prevent water pipes from freezing. In older homes, seal holes and cracks in the foundation with caulk or insulation. Consider letting a faucet or two drip if the pipes will be exposed to below freezing temperatures for more than a few hours.
Don’t forget livestock and pet water sources. If they drink out of a container, it will also freeze when temperatures are below freezing for just a few hours. Electric and solar water-heating devices are available to prevent your pet’s water from freezing. Most people don’t see the need for these tools until Rover’s water bowl turns into an ice tray. If you find yourself in that situation, provide fresh water to your animals a couple of times per day.
Keeping chimneys clean is the other key step in preventing chimney fires. If you don't use your fireplace very often, or you just moved, you might not know whether your chimney is clean or not. The following signs indicate a chimney in need of a cleaning:
Burned wood odors coming from the fireplace when it's not being used.
Fires that seem to burn poorly or that dump a bunch of smoke into the room.
A black damper. Since it sits right above the firebox, the damper is often the easiest thing to see and reach. And it gets caked with creosote. Look or reach inside, and see what you can find. If you see black gunk or you can pull out chunks of the stuff, there's a good amount of creosote built up inside. How often you need to clean your chimney depends a great deal on how much you use it. The kinds of fires you build and the type of wood you use also govern frequency. As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to have chimneys cleaned at least once a year, usually before cold weather sets in. Some people prefer to do it in the spring, and some chimney sweeps offer special promotions at this time of year to keep business going. This is fine, too, but scheduling a fall cleaning will also clear out anything that might have fallen into the chimney during the summer.
Most people hire chimney sweeps. We recommend it as well. It's dirty work, and not something that's okay to do half-way. A certified, well-trained sweep will do a better job in a shorter amount of time than you can. Look for someone who is credentialed by the National Chimney Sweep Guild or the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
You can, however, clean your chimney yourself. Here's what you'll need:
Ladder for climbing onto the roof.
Drop cloth or old sheet to cover fireplace opening, and additional drop cloths or sheets to cover any rugs or furniture in the area.
Duct tape or another product for attaching the drop cloth or sheet to the fireplace opening.
Vacuum cleaner with crevice attachment. If you plan on making chimney cleaning a regular habit, you might want to think about investing in a vacuum designed for exactly this.
Chimney rod and brushes. You can buy these at some hardware and home stores, or from a chimney sweep supplier. Some fire departments keep brushes and rods for people to borrow to clean their chimneys.
Stiff-bristled cleaning brush. Buy one with a long handle for easier access to the damper.