Cumberland Times-News

January 17, 2013

Fire marshal offers winter heating tips

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — As temperatures drop and residents depend on multiple types of heating sources, State Fire Marshal William Barnard offers Marylanders life- and home-saving heating safety tips.

“Elements of home heating continue to be a significant factor in dwelling fires in Maryland,” he said.  “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 source.

• Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire. Only use combustible materials like newspaper, kindling or approved fire-starting products to safely create a fire in a fireplace or wood stove.

• Use properly sized fireplace screens or enclosures.  

• 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 and heaters are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

• Have furnaces inspected and serviced annually.

• Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure they are clean and placed on a level surface. Use only products “listed” by an approved testing laboratory and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

• Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters. The extension cord may overheat and cause a fire.

• Use only “K-1” kerosene fuel and never fill the unit inside; remove it to the exterior after it has cooled before refueling. Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation.

• Keep combustibles at least 3 feet from all heat sources.

• Provide a noncombustible protective barrier to keep children and pets from making contact with any heating appliance.                                                                             

• Fuel-burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide. Install and maintain CO alarms inside the home to provide an early warning of dangerous carbon monoxide levels.

• Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods. Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.  

• Also check to make sure that 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,” said Barnard.