Before you go out, blow it out

Candle safety is up to you, caution city fire officials

December 3, 2005

Hood River Fire Chief Jeff Walker warns that while candles may add a special touch to home decorating, they also present a fire hazard.

During 2004, Oregon had 142 candle-related fires, causing one fatality, 17 injuries and more than $3.3 million in property loss.

“Unattended candles left burning account for the majority of candle-related fires,” Walker said.

“That’s why Hood River Fire Department encourages you to blow it out, before you go out. Candle safety is up to you.”

Walker recommended following some simple guidelines:

* Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.

* Keep candles at least one foot away from things that burn. This includes clothing, curtains, upholstered furniture, greenery, decorations and any other flammable items.

* Always use a sturdy metal, glass or ceramic candleholder. Make sure the candleholder is big enough to catch dripping wax.

* Place candles away from small children and pets.

* Trim wicks to one-quarter inch before lighting.

* Avoid candles with flammable items embedded. This includes twigs, flowers or leaves. These items can ignite or even explode.

*****

For brightening the holidays electrically, the Oregon Department of Energy notes that “LED”-type lights can reduce holiday lighting energy costs by about 90 percent.

The "light emitting diode" or LED holiday lights use very little electricity and are cool to the touch. Besides saving energy, the lights can last for years and stay lit even if one bulb goes out.

While they may cost more initially, LED lights can pay for themselves in just one season. The lights come in single- or multi-colored strings and a variety of shapes.

Limiting illumination time and installing timer devices are good ways to enjoy the luminescence while saving energy.

DOE recommends checking all your lights for damaged sockets, fixtures and cords.

Discard any that appear defective.

Also, instead of adding more strings to the tree, try maximizing the lights you have with mirrored ornaments and other items.

For more ways to save energy this winter, go to:

www.warmoregon.org

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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