The winter months of 2018-2019 in the Guthrie area had several large house fires and an apartment fire. There were three fatalities in the Guthrie area last year during the winter season. All of the causes of the fires were never determined by the fire department, but there are some safety rules to observe as the cold weather moves in to reduce the risk of fire.

The News Leader caught up with Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow on some must do items early in the season. Among the suggestions were to check your smoke alarms to make sure they are in working order. If you need smoke alarms or help getting smoke alarms installed, call the Red Cross or the Guthrie Fire Department. 

Residents should check fireplaces for cleanliness whether it be wood burning or just an insert, make sure they are in good working condition. Make sure you have a metal container away from the house for fireplace ashes and that the ashes are extinguished before putting them in the can. It is also recommended, that residents have some sort of screen in front of their wood burning stoves or fireplaces to ensure any exploding wood sparks are contained in the fireplace.

If you are using space heaters, make sure they are a minimum of three feet away from curtains, blankets and other flammable materials. If you are using space heaters, only one heater should be plugged into an outlet at a time. Do no overload an outlet. Do not run multiple extension cords off the same outlet. Check your emergency supplies like flashlights for power outages, candles should not be a lighting source for power outages.

A suggestion for individuals with disabilities and oxygen tanks in a house:  mark the outside windows if possible where that person is or where the equipment is located. If it’s an inside room, mark the front door of the residence. Do not allow smoking close to medical oxygen materials as a fire will burn much faster.

There are a lot of older homes in Guthrie that have a lot of old wiring. While replacing wiring is very expensive, there are several safety steps that can be taken to protect a residence. The house I recently bought did not have any ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in the house. It now has some in all the key rooms of the house. The GFCI shuts off electrical power when there is a shock hazard present.  

Finally, while it can be expensive it is recommended not to use extension cords for anything other than a temporary use. Have an electrician check out your house for safe electrical practices if you are unsure of what you must work with. 

Finally, have a plan to exit your house and look over all your issues. Some may not be something we can all fix or afford to fix, but if we follow some of these simple safety rules, we can avoid some catastrophes.

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