Winter Hazards

Even here in beautiful La Mesa, winter can be cold and wet. Many of us not only rely on in-home heating systems, we supplement heating our homes with a fireplace, wood stove or an electric space heater. They do the job, but they can each present their own hazards. What can you do to help ensure the safety of your home and family? Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

Fireplace and Wood StoveBlack Wood Burner

  • In a fireplace or wood stove, burn only DRY, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
  • Keep anything that can burn at LEAST 3 feet away from your wood or fireplace stove.
  • Have your chimney and stove INSPECTED and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Clean the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush.
  • Allow ashes to COOL before disposing of them. Place ashes in a covered metal container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from your home and other buildings.
  • Keep a CLOSE EYE on children and pets. Use a safety barrier to keep them at least 3 feet away from your fireplace or wood stove whenever it’s in use.
  • NEVER use a barbecue grill to heat your home or any enclosed space. They emit dangerous carbon monoxide.

Electric Space Heater

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a QUALIFIED testing laboratory.
  • Keep the heater at LEAST 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including people and pets.
  • Choose a heater with a THERMOSTAT and overheat protection.
  • Place the heater on a SOLID, flat surface, and make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
  • Plug the heater DIRECTLY into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Space heaters should be turned OFF and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.

Winter rains can also bring flooding to our area.  Here are some things you can do to keep safe in flooding situations:

  • Silhouette of TreeDon’t walk into MOVING water. Just six inches of moving water can knock over and carry away an adult. 24 inches of flowing water can wash away a car.
  • Do not go near DOWNED power lines.
  • Never drive around road CLOSURE barricades. Do not drive into flooded areas.
  • If you think you may need them, get sandbags BEFORE the rain begins.
  • AVOID flood water, if possible. It might be contaminated.

We’ve discussed how to keep you safe at home and on the road, but what about the safety of our community? One of the best ways to help our community stay prepared is by joining our East County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This program is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, and your neighborhood in emergency situations. The course is designed to be a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where people may initially be on their own and their actions can make a difference. For details on how you can participate in East County CERT, visit our CERT web page.