The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 17, 2013

Fall fire safety tips

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office has released fall fire safety tips to help keep families safe during the seasonal transition.

“Many people don’t realize that their homes are at a greater risk of fire during the winter,” according to the release. “This is why fall fire safety tips can help home owners prepare their homes and protect their families.”

Tips include:

- Clean out your chimney. A deposit called creosote can build up in your chimney from smoke and start fires.

- Create a defensible space around your home by keeping trees a minimum of 30 feet away.

- Leaves should be cleaned up to limit fuel for a fire.

- Never park your vehicle over a pile of leaves. The heat from the its exhaust system can ignite the leaves below.

- Check all smoke and carbon dioxide detectors to make sure they work, and change the batteries.

- Have a fire extinguisher that is usable, ready and available at all times.

The fire marshal’s office also warns against the fire dangers associated with “hoarding.”

“Hoarding is a psychological disorder in which a person ‘collects’ and keeps many things, ranging from animals to items others might consider trash,” according to the release. “Hoarders perceive these collections to be of worth, and that they are somehow ‘saving’ the items from going to waste.”

According to the state fire marshal’s office, in the event of a fire, clutter can cause blocked exits that would prevent escape from the home and people who hoard are at high risk of being injured when they trip over things or when materials fall on them.

Firefighters can also be put at risk due to obstructed exits, falling objects and excessive fire loading that can lead to structural collapse. Neighbors living adjacent to a hoarded home also face a risk, as they can be quickly affected due to excessive smoke and fire conditions.

As for burning laws, forest fire season begins Oct. 1 and lasts through the end of the year. The fire marshal’s office said during that time, no one is allowed to set fire to any forest land, grass, grain, stubble, slash, debris or other inflammable or organic materials, except between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. Any fire during this time must be extinguished prior to 7 a.m.

For more information, contact your local fire department or call Carol Nolte at 304-558-2191.

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