Chief Zinniel has fire safety tips

Deb Moldaschel
Winners of the Sleepy Eye Fire Department's fifth grade Fire Prevention Week poster contest displayed their posters, depicting the theme, "Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen" The young artists received cash prizes for their winning effort, from left: Karly Wendinger, Kelsey Ladd, and Kenley Jensen. The girls are students at Sleepy Eye Elementary School.

The Sleepy Eye Fire Department observed Fire Prevention Week a bit differently this year. Like so many other events, the pandemic has affected what they can do. As they hold their open house every other year, and this was not the year, at least that popular event was not affected.

Same as every year, local 5th grade students were invited to participate in the poster contest and (on Wednesday evening) the fire department drove through town for Operation EDITH (Exit Drill In The Home). Fire Chief Ron Zinniel said this is a time for families to discuss a plan in case of a home fire — set a meeting place away from the house and practice a fire drill.

Instead of kindergarten class tours at the fire station, this year fire trucks were brought to the schools for the kindergarten students to see and hear a bit about fire safety.

In case of a fire in the home, Zinniel said the first thing to do is leave the home, then call 911 to report the fire.

Zinniel provided a list of safety tips for the home, including in the kitchen — the focus of the theme this year: Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.

•Have a smoke alarm on every level of the home and change batteries yearly.

•Have carbon monoxide detectors within 10 feet of sleeping areas.

•Have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.

•Practice safe cooking habits: counter tops should not be cluttered near stove, when cooking turn pan handles in, don’t use the oven as a storage cabinet.

•In the event of a grease fire do not attempt to put it out with water, do not move the pan — simply place a lid on it and allow the pan to cool.

•It is heating season now, so make sure the furnace is working properly.

•Keep at least 3 to 5 feet clearance around your furnace and hot water heater (no clutter.)

•Only use UL approved space heaters and remember they are intended for temporary heat — always turn space heaters off when attended and make sure you have plenty of clearance around the heater.

•Keep clothes dryer screens clean from lint.

•Extension cords are intended for temporary use, bot as a permanent means to power appliances or electronics in your home or garage.

•When using extension cords choose a good quality cord. Lightweight cords are not recommended.

•Never leave a candle burning unattended and always put it out at night when you go to sleep. Make sure there is clearance around and above candles.

•Remember that a clean house and garage are much safer.

•Recreational fires should be 25 feet from any structure, no larger than 3 by 3 feet, and enclosed in a fire pit or fire ring.

•Burning of trash is prohibited in town and rural areas.

•In rural areas if burning grass or road ditches, be aware of the surroundings, wind and weather conditions and never leave the fire unattended.

•Before any rural burning, call Brown County Dispatch at 507-233-6700, so they are aware and don’t dispatch the fire department (which results in an invoice for fire service.)

•With harvest season in full swing, take time to clean and keep farm machinery in good, safe working condition to prevent fire.

•Everyone needs to be aware of extra traffic and farm equipment on the roads during harvest. Please don’t take for granted that the operator of the equipment sees you on the road — their view can be obstructed so give machinery extra space. We all want the harvest season to be safe.

“If we all just take an extra minute or two each day to remember these safety tips, many fire and accidents can be prevented,” Zinniel said.