Last night, the first red and blue lights that came by were the ambulance, and I went, I hope that the person down the road is ok (we have a few elderly folks, and we have a few folks with chronic health issues) but shortly after came the first fire truck, then from the other way came another fire truck and then came the OPP car. Someone locally had a very bad day..
I called and checked on my local friends, they called and checked on others, we got calls to make sure that we were ok. I am glad that we have lived in this area long enough that we are part of the phone checks.
Having said that… It’s a very good reminder that fire safety is something to be VERY careful in regards to the winter cold. It’s important at all times but winter on a farm needs a few extra things. Because we live in Canada, there are a lot of folks here that are using their wood stoves to help heat their houses, shops and garages
So today, I am going to over some of the most basic things for the farm.
- Check your fire alarms, check your fire fighting tools. Is that water tap frozen shut in that building, if it is…then make sure you have secondary tools at hand…and as it gets colder, we bring more things in…watch those walk-ways. Do not close off a second exit. I went into a friend’s barn and she has two doors, she had the lawn mower blocking the main walk way on one side and she had feed, straw and so forth blocking the second way out, but she also had critters in that building. I know we want to create warm winter buildings and we want to move investments for tools etc in for the winter but I will say it again: KEEP your fire fighting walk ways clear!
- Check your cords, and watch those drifting cracked windows. I would love to tell you that every farmer of course has power right where they need it but if you believe that, I have bridge to tell you about :). The truth is we run outside power cords, I have a cord that runs out to keep the big pasture water trough ice free for them. Check that cord regular…make sure it’s not been nicked, make sure that wind has not pulled it (so far we have had three storms with wind gusts between 90 to 100 km plus) and while we have it built so that it is blocked, check that tiny crack. If the wind comes right, snow and wet can creep in. Do you have a heat lamp, the odds are good you do…it’s either birds or new lambs or goat kids or piglets or maybe it’s over a spot for the old farm cat. Regardless, check it regular, make sure it’s hung proper.
- Weather, wet and heating in hay or straw. While you normally need to work about heating in hay earlier in the season, with these new and in many cases odd weather patterns, keep a eye on them. I heard from a friend that she walked by an area that is for hay storage and she looked and went huh, she had steam rising in the cool morning light, and she went and gasped and started pulling bales apart. She had a small leak in the roof (and we have had rain), enough that it came into that one area, poured in, the hay got wet, the hay heated up…and while the odds are it would have been fine, she said that the worst ones were hot to the touch. The moral on this one…even if the area is a low traffic area, do check it.
- If you are using powered heaters, and I was just listening to folks talking about oil heaters vs fan blown heaters and they were not talking about use in the house but in outbuildings, the rules are the same. When it comes to those heaters, do not use extension cords, plug them into their proper power plugs, watch them…and in truth, ideally do as they say: TURN them off if you can not watch them. I know that a lot of folks will not turn them off, so keep them off the walls, give them the space, keep them dust free, keep the area in front of them clean and check them daily. I mean that at least once a day, put yourself in front of them and feel where that heat is directed and then look around, most of them are now on wheels and are far too easy for a farm cat, or hound to move them even a few inches and while they were facing safely in terms of direction, that can change and quickly.
- Wood Stoves, ah wood stove, you rock, you are amazing. The ability for us to grow our trees, harvest them, replant and repeat makes you such a awesome thing for those that need to heat in winter. Having said that, do the safety checks in the fall, and follow the rules for heating with wood.
There are many more, feel free to add your farm winter safety tips to help prevent fires in the comments!