Friday, 22 February 2019

Sweep your chimneys, householders warned

Sweep your chimneys, householders warned

RESIDENTS of Henley and surrounding villages have been urged to get their chimneys professionally swept to prevent fires from breaking out.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned that there were 12 chimney fires in the town over the past three years and they are mostly likely to happen between now and the end of March.

It says householders should check their first-floor fireplaces as these are often redundant and can attract a build-up of dirt and debris. One such incident was recently caused by a combination of debris and a bird's nest and resulted in smoke damage to the upper floor of the house.

Open fires should be covered by a fire guard to protect against hot sparks and residents should not go out or go to bed until the embers have fully cooled.

Owners of wood burners should not stack logs beside the fire as they can slowly dry out then catch light due to radiated heat. Instead they should be stored outside while the burners should never be unsupervised when lit.

A fully or partly blocked chimney can also cause a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas, which is produced when wood, coal and other fossil fuels are burned.

The fire service's home and community safety manager Chris Barber said: “All chimneys and flues should be regularly cleaned and checked to ensure they’re free from debris and in full working order, ready to use safely when the weather gets colder.

“If the worst should happen, working smoke alarms can give you an early warning. Make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them monthly."

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, the county council’s member for safety, said: "We should never be complacent when it comes to fire prevention. Open fires provide a relaxing, atmospheric way to keep warm but please follow our advice to ensure a cosy home doesn’t become a danger zone.”

Residents are urged to pass the advice to their neighbours. For more information, visit www.365alive.co.uk

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