Chimney Awareness


As Upstate temperatures turn colder we are all busy gathering wood, coal and other fuels to give us warmth inside our homes. This season is the optimal time to have your chimney and fire systems checked.

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary."

There are a number of local trained professionals in Ithaca and the surrounding areas to help you with yearly chimney maintenance needs.


What you should know...

In addition to regular maintenance, it is important to be aware of signs of an impending chimney fire. Some of the most prominent signs include:

  • Loud cracking and/or popping noise
  • A lot of dense smoke and,
  • An intense hot smell

Conditions that encourage chimney fires:

  • restricted air supply
  • unseasoned wood
  • cooler than normal chimney temperatures

Fire Safety


Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The first step to fire prevention is to install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms to provide enough protection.

For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.

An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms (also known as dual sensor alarms) are recommended.

Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally, they should be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.

For the best protection, interconnect all carbon monoxide alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.

Choose a carbon monoxide alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

Test the carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If the alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrives.

If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if the garage door(s) are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.

During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.

A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.

Gas or charcoal grills can produce carbon monoxide – only use outside.

If you are in need of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm –Tompkins County Healthy Neighborhoods Program at 607-274-6688 or Tompkins County Health Department at 607-274-6688.

Visit the Tompkins County Healthy Neighborhoods Program Website

Fire Safety Tip Sheets



Visit the NFPA website to read tip sheets on the causes of fire including:

  • Cooking 
  • Candles 
  • Religious candles 
  • Heating 
  • Smoking
  • Electrical 

Escape Planning & Unintentional Injuries

Tip Sheets on prevention and planning such as:

  • Escape Planning
  • Scald Prevention

Fire & Safety Equipment

Tips sheets from NFPA including:

  • Smoke alarms 
  • Smoke alarms for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing 
  • Home fire sprinklers 
  • Carbon monoxide alarms 

Household Equipment

Visit NFPA for information on fire safety around household items:

  • 9-volt batteries 
  • CFL light bulbs
  • Clothes dryers
  • Gel fuel safety
  • NEW! Lithium ion batteries 
  • Medical oxygen 
  • Microwave ovens 
  • Portable fireplaces 
  • Portable generators 
  • Portable space heaters 
  • Security bars
  • Wood & Pellet stoves

Seasonal Equipment

Visit NFPA to view tip sheets on fire prevention around seasonal items such as:

  • Get Ahead of the Winter Freeze 
  • Halloween 
  • Thanksgiving 
  • Christmas trees
  • NEW! Winter storms


Learn about fire safety around occupancies such as:

  • Barn fire safety checklist
  • NEW! Fire alarms in apartment buildings
  • Safety in places of public assembly 
  • Campus fire safety 
  • Hotels/motels 
  • High-rise apartments/condominiums 
  • Manufactured homes

Brush Fire Safety


Brush Fire Prevention

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house. Learn more about the basics of defensible space on the Firewise website.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
  • Learn more about how to protect your home and property at

Swift Water Safety


Swift Water Emergencies Happen When Least Expected

 Water-related accidents are among the most common cause of death in some of our nation’s most visited parks, forests and waterways. Trumansburg is filled with rushing creeks and is situated on the coast of Cayuga Lake. Many drowning victims were not trying to swim but were simply engaging in activities as innocent as wading, taking photos or playing along the stream bank. Those victims attempting to swim in swift waters overestimated their swimming ability and underestimated river currents. None of these drowning victims suspected that tragedy was about to overwhelm them. 

Swift Water Safety - Be Aware of Hazards


Be cautious anytime you or your family are near rivers and streams. Consider these precautions as spring snow melts and rivers and streams rise. Also be cautious when waters appear warm or slow moving, but actually have strong and sometimes dangerous currents below the surface.

  • Water Temperature: Air temperatures may feel hot and the water may feel or appear warm, but temperatures can be extremely cold below the surface. Hypothermia can quickly set in and overwhelm even the strongest of swimmers, becoming too weak to escape.
  • Currents: In as little as six inches, water that may look calm on the surface and slow-moving can have enough force to knock you off your feet and sweep you downstream. Even a slow current can take you where you don't want to go, towards hazards, and leave strong swimmers unable to reach the shore.
  • Water Hazards: A slippery and uneven river bottom combined with the stream’s current can suddenly sweep you off your feet. Debris and underwater features such as trees, branches and logs, and even narrow gaps between rocks can trap you under water, causing hypothermia or even death.

Water Safety is Your Responsibility

 Anytime you're recreating in and around water -- especially with children, be aware of your surroundings. 

 Slippery rocks, an unstable shoreline or even a distraction that takes your focus away from the water, can cause an accident -- quickly and quietly. 

Knowing Your Surroundings


  • Check river and stream conditions before heading out on your adventure and always let someone know where you are going and when you will return. River and stream condition information may be found at visitor centers, ranger stations and from weather alerts.
  • Inquire about swimming regulations. At some recreation sites swimming is not recommended or may even be prohibited. Follow "No Swimming" signs.
  • Where allowed, choose swimming areas carefully. Often hazards are not visible in what may seem like a good place to swim or wade.
  • Wear a properly fitting personal floatation device (life jacket) for all river activities. Don’t assume you have the swimming skills to keep you afloat, even the strongest swimmers can drown.
  • When near rapids or other moving water, always stay on the established trails or developed areas.
  • Keep a close watch on children even if they are far from the water. Water safety for children is especially important as they can quickly enter the water and get in trouble when your attention is diverted for only a moment.
  • Never walk, play or climb on slippery rocks and logs near rivers and streams.
  • Never swim or wade upstream from a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow or calm.
  • Be cautious of sudden drop offs.


 If you fall in, use the defensive position: on your back, feet pointing downstream and on the surface (can you see your toes?). Never go in the water after someone in trouble. Rescue from shore and get help.

Gorge & Hiking Trail Safety


Trumansburg is home to miles of hiking trails

 Without proper planning and packing, even a short day hike could turn into a potentially dangerous outing. So, before you brush off weekday stress and lace up your hiking boots, remember these gorge & hiking safety tips. 

Seasonal Considerations

Spring – In  the spring, trails can be slippery from melting snow, ice and heavy rainfall. This causes the creek levels to rise and become rapid. Some trails are not open in the spring, never hike on a closed trail.

Summer – Unpredictable weather in the summer causes rapid changes to trail and creek conditions. These changes can cause rapid water and pull a person under, quickly bringing an emergency situation. Stay on the trails and only swim in permitted areas. Pay close attention to swift water guidelines!

Fall – Trumansburg Hiking Trail season ends in the fall as leaves begin to fall and rainstorms begin to increase. This change in weather causes our trails to become very slippery and creeks to become turbulent, cold and unsafe. Never hike on a closed trail.

Winter – In the winter, Trumansburg trails are closed for the season. Trails in this area are not maintained in the winter and are covered in snow and ice, making the trails extremely dangerous to travel. On open trails, assess the condition before hiking. 

BEFORE You Go Hiking

  • Make a Gear List
  • Bring  a Map
  • Hike During the Day
  • Learn About the Area
  • Check the Weather Forecast
  • Be Confident About Your Hiking Abilities
  • Tell Someone Before You Go
  • Stay Together