Winter has arrived with snow, ice, and cold temperatures. The use of wood burning stoves, fireplaces and space heaters to help defray the cost of home heating fuel and utilities has increased. Although these are all major factors in residential fires, many of these fires can be prevented. The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office recommends the following tips for a safe winter season.
If there is a fire hydrant near your home, please aid the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow. Then, if needed, it can be easily located. Clear snow away from all doorways, so several exits are available. If windows are used as emergency exits, be sure they open easily. Practice using them. Home escape ladders are also suggested.
Do not overload the circuit when using an electric heater. Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance cord. Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
Never use a range or oven for heat. This is a safety hazard as well as a potential source of toxic fumes.
Be sure fireplaces and wood stoves are installed properly. Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned, if necessary. Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate a fire. Do not break apart synthetic logs or use more than one at a time. They may burn unevenly and release high levels of carbon monoxide. Keep a screen in front of the fireplace opening. Never close the damper when hot ashes are in the fireplace or discard them in or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and away from the house. Put out the fire in a fireplace before going to bed.
Inspect exhaust parts on kerosene heaters for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shutoff. Use only the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Never use fuel burning appliances without proper ventilation as coal, kerosene or propane can produce deadly fumes. Keep flammable liquids in approved metal containers outside the house in a well-ventilated storage area. Never fill the heater while it is on or hot. Refuel outdoors and avoid overfilling.
Never burn charcoal indoors. It can give off high levels of carbon monoxide.
Use hot water or an UL labeled appliance, such as a hair dryer, to thaw frozen pipes. Do not use a blow torch or open flame.
Have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home and smoke alarms in all sleeping areas also.
Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
If you have questions or concerns about fire safety or prevention, please call the Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-891-4711, Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or visit the website at www.orangefiremarshal.com.