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State Fire Marshal Provides Fall and Winter Heating Safety Tips

MARYLAND – As the days get shorter and the temperature begins to drop, we depend on multiple heating sources to stay warm inside our homes. State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci is providing Marylanders life 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 chimneys are cleaned annually or more frequently if used as the primary heating equipment.

• Use adequately sized fireplace screens or enclosures. Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire.

• When disposing of cooled ashes, do not use paper or plastic containers to remove them, instead use a metal container. Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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. Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide levels.

• 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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