Fire, other holiday safety tips from Town’s Cumesty

Farragut fire inspector Colin Cumesty offers fire prevention and other tips to keep everyone safe this holiday season.

• “If using a live tree, make sure it stays thoroughly watered and test it often. To test the tree, simply grasp a branch with a gloved hand and pull away from the tree. If needles come off in your hand, your tree needs more water.

“If your tree required multiple outlets for lighting, we recommend using a (ground fault circuit interrupt)-protected power strip plugged into a duplex outlet and use only the outlets on the power strip leaving the other open outlet unused.”

• He advised about portable heaters, “Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything combustible. Never leave a portable heater running unattended or sleeping.”

• For homeowners with a fireplace and chimney, Cumesty recommended they be maintained annually by a licensed and bonded chimney sweep to ensure they are working properly.

He added, “Fireplace ash and debris should be discarded in a metal container with a secure lid and kept at least 10 feet away from your home or anything combustible, as ash can retain heat for days after the fire is out.”

• “If you use extension cords, make sure they are in proper working condition, free of frays or damage.

Use an extension cord rated not only for the item/device you are using but also the environment. For outside your home, please use outdoor-rated cords.

“Do not link together multiple extension cords or power strips, as increased resistance can lead to a higher potential for a fire.”

Cumesty advised smoke alarm batteries should be changed at least once a year, also adding, “Test them monthly and clean them with a vacuum or duster. (They) should be installed on every level and close to sleeping area.

“Never install one within 6 feet of an appliance. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years with a new device. To get smoke alarms or batteries changed call 865-215 FIRE (3473).”

• “Families also need to have a fire escape plan in advance and to have drills. Your fire escape plan should have two ways out of any room and should be practiced twice a year. If your plan involves an escape ladder from a second floor window, you must practice.

“Identify a safe meeting place outside the home.”

• Families and individuals also should be mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning, he said.

“If your home uses wood or a gas to heat or cook, you need to protect yourself with a carbon monoxide detector,” recommending a detector on every floor of the home, installed per manufacturer’s instructions.

“Choose a device that is AC-powered with a battery backup. Replace your CO detector per manufacturers instructions.”