With the “Polar Vortex” that has gripped the area, and the temperatures that have dropped to below freezing, you may be depending on multiple heating sources to stay warm inside your homes. The FVFAC along with State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci want to provide the following life safety and home saving heating safety tips. “Elements of heating resources continue to be a significant factor in home fires in Maryland,” according to the Fire Marshal. “Following these guidelines, we can work together to reduce the number of residential fires.”
- Ensure that your chimneys are cleaned annually or even more frequently if used in conjunction with your primary heating equipment.
- Use adequately sized fireplace screens or enclosures. Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire in a fireplace, wood stove or pellet stove.
- When disposing of ashes, do not use paper or plastic containers to remove them, instead always use a metal container. Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out. You may consider the ashes as being cooled off, but the hidden embers retain heat for a long period of time.
- Make sure fuel-burning stoves are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.
- Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure they are clean and placed on a flat level surface. Use only “listed” appliances by an approved testing laboratory and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters. The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire. Always plug heat producing devices directly into a wall outlet on a properly rated and protected circuit.
- If you use kerosene fuel-fired heaters, use only “K-1” kerosene fuel. Never fill the unit inside; remove it to the exterior after it has cooled before refueling. Note: Portable kerosene heaters are banned for use in Baltimore City.
- Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation when using fueled heaters.
- Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.) at least (3) three feet from all heat sources. Fuel-burning appliances produce a deadly, tasteless, and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide (CO). Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide levels. Learn what the effects of CO are on the human body and be able to recognize the symptoms if they should occur.
- Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods. Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.
Along with these heating tips, check to make sure your smoke alarms are in good working order. “Routine maintenance and safe operation of heating equipment, combined with properly installed and operating smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, are a life-saving combination for all Marylanders,” stated Geraci.
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