Manitobans urged to stay fire-smart while staying warm this winter

Winnipeg fire crews still have to fight fires in freezing conditions. Rudi Pawlychyn / Global News

Winnipeg fire crews are reminding citizens to make smart, safe choices while working to weather winter conditions.

RELATED: Tough stretch for Manitoba fire crews

The winter season brings with it a number of fire hazards, but fires are preventable. Follow these tips to keep your home and family safe:

Portable Heaters

  • use only electric heaters showing the safety seal of a nationally recognized certification agency (CSA or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada)
  • don’t overload a circuit with “octopus outlets”. Have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician
  • don’t use space heaters near anything that can burn (curtains, furniture, clothing, etc.); allow 3 feet of clearance
  • use the right heater for the right space (ie. use only indoor-designated heaters indoors); follow manufacturer instructions
  • don’t leave portable heaters unattended

Plugging in vehicles

  • inspect your block heater cord for damage
  • use a protective cover on the plug end to prevent corrosion and dirt buildup
  • use the proper gauge extension cord for block heaters
  • do not plug in your vehicle if you park in an attached garage

RELATED: CAA Manitoba sets service record due to cold

Garage Safety

  • any garage heating appliances should be in good working condition. If a heater repeatedly blows a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, stop using it and have it inspected by a licensed electrician
  • hard-wire permanent garage heaters – never use an extension cord
  • keep household chemicals away from any heat source
  • keep garbage outside of the garage, away from any heat source

Frozen Pipes

  • keep your plumbing from freezing by properly insulating: go to the City of Winnipeg Water and Waste Department web page for tips
  • if your internal pipes do freeze, do not use a propane heater or open flame device (ex: blow torch, candle, butane lighter), or electric appliances (space heaters, heat guns, hair dryers) to thaw the pipes

Go to the City of Winnipeg web page to find out what to do about frozen pipes and how to prevent them.

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RELATED: Winnipeg’s winter weather causing plumbing issues

Carbon Monoxide

  • install carbon monoxide alarms on all levels of your home and test the alarms regularly
  • never idle vehicles in an attached garage, not even with the garage door is open
  • have your fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, fireplaces, gas dryers) cleaned and checked annually
  • clear snow from all fresh air intake vents, exhaust vents and chimneys
  • do not use gas-powered generators, charcoal or propane barbecue/grills, or kerosene stoves indoors, or in closed space

For more information on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, visit Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service – Carbon Monoxide Safety.

Winter Safety for Smokers

  • if you do smoke, do it outside, or in your garage
  • do not put cigarettes out in empty planters or pots – planting materials can cause a cigarette to smolder for hours and ingnite
  • soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away and use a sturdy ashtray
  • dispose of butts and embers properly – never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash or in the yard

For more information on fire and injury prevention, visit Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

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