Helpful Information from Mariposa County Fire Department
Preparing for Cold Weather
It's the time of year when people are starting to use their furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces and woodstoves to keep them warm as the temperatures start to drop. Poorly maintained furnaces and alternative forms of heat are major causes of house fires and also can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Chimneys and woodstoves should be checked annually for cracks and debris. For your furnace, an annual inspection and cleaning is recommended to check for cracks in the combustion chamber, which could allow carbon monoxide to leak into a residence.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is usually vented away from the furnace area. If allowed to collect, carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms, disorientation, confusion and death.
If using a portable space heater be sure electric circuits can handle the additional load. Putting more than one heater on the same circuit may overtax the system and cause a fire hazard.
Fireplace Safety - Proper Ash Disposal
With the onset of colder weather, we are again confronted with the problem of improper ash disposal. Many people do not realize the length of time required for ashes to cool enough for disposal. Even after several days, a pile of ashes can hold enough heat to reignite and start a fire.
* Make sure there are no hot spots left in the ashes by soaking them in water or letting them sit for at least four days.
* All ashes should then be stored in a fire-resistant metal container with a tight fitting cover. They should NEVER be disposed in a plastic garbage can, a cardboard box, or paper grocery bag. Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.
* The metal container should be placed away from anything that can burn. It should not be placed next to a firewood pile, in the garage, on or under a wood deck, or under a porch.
* After sitting for a week in the metal container the ashes are then safe to dispose of in your trash.
Mariposa County Fire Department would like to remind you to limit possible distractions that could take your attention away from driving. When driving at high speeds on our mountain roads it is of the utmost importance you concentrate on the roads, your vehicle and the weather conditions. A distraction of just a split second can be disastrous.