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Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Houston Fire Department Urges Citizens to use Safety when using Heating Devices and Driving

According to the National Weather Service the City can expect to see quickly falling temperatures mixed with precipitation today into Friday. The Houston Fire Department urges citizens to be careful and follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters, fireplaces and other supplemental heating sources; as well as driving on possible icy roads.

Citizens should always keep in mind that: Space Heaters Need Space. The Houston Fire Department recommends the following safety tips when using supplemental heating sources:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.
  • Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater – Children knock over space heaters especially if they are placed on top of wobbly tables or stools and near where the children play. Children may also stick paper or toys in the grates of the space heaters especially gas space heaters.
  • Keep all combustible materials, including yourself at least 3 feet from the heater
  • Open face heaters should have a screen
  • Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Vented Gas / Fired Heating Appliances Tips – Central heating units, floor furnaces, recessed wall heaters, and vented space heaters.

Inspect annually by a qualified service technician.

  • Do not use these type units without a proper vent pipe. Vent pipes must exhaust to the outside!
  • If your flame is not blue, it is not burning properly. It is producing Carbon Monoxide,which can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. Turn it off.
  • Use flexible metal tubing with threaded ends to connect the heater to the gas valve. There should be a cutoff valve for the heater at the wall. Never use a rubber hose to connect a space heater to the gas valve!
  • Use soapy water to check all connections and valves for leaks. NEVER use a match to test for a gas leak!
  • Look for the American Gas Association label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper usage.

Electric Heaters Tips

  • Never overload outlets or breakers
  • Don’t use extension cords for the heater. If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it!
  • Electric heaters permanently installed in the wall or ceiling should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and dust will burn!
  • Fireplace safety from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA)

According to the NFPA While fireplaces often conjure up images of warmth and comfort, they also represent a source of home heating fires. Creosote – a sticky, oily, combustible substance created when wood does not burn completely – rises into the chimney as a liquid and deposits on the chimney walls, and plays a role in nearly one-fourth (23%) of all home heating fires each year.

Just like a space heater, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, and create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room
  • Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present.
  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, and kept at a safe distance from your home.

With this cold and possibly wet weather, the ground will be cold enough for that rain and snow mix to freeze once it hits the ground. This will especially be the case on elevated roadways, overpasses and bridges as these concrete and steel structures tend to become colder than the ground. If you do not need to be traveling during this period, please remain inside until the weather warms up. The City of Houston asks residents to remain alert to changing weather conditions and to be vigilant of dangerous driving conditions.  If you see City streets with ice on them, please call Houston 311 to report it so that we can send out appropriate crews.

If you have to drive:

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

Additional Protective Actions

  • It’s important to remember to protect people, pets, pipes, and plants. Information on how to do this is available at houstontx.gov/emergency.
  • If you do have to drive, be incredibly cautious. Black ice can form on roads, and cause you to lose control very quickly.
  • Exposed pipes can freeze and cause your home to flood, so please insulate them to ensure they are protected from the cold. Do not leave faucets running to try to keep them from freezing, this can cause low water pressure across the system needed for basic services and fire suppression.