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Fire Marshal Warns Of Holiday Hazards

December 5th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci reminds all Marylanders to check for fire safety where they live, where they work and even where they attend classes, trainings and meetings.  “Fire and life safety is everyone’s responsibility; by testing smoke alarms and CO detectors, keeping exits clear of obstructions, and maintaining fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems, we can all avoid injury or death from the effects of fire,” stated the State Fire Marshal.

          To ensure your best chances of surviving a fire, the State Fire Marshal offers the following tips on both escaping a fire and preventing one to begin with:

·         Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.  Remember, the effects of toxic smoke and gases can quickly overcome your ability to think clearly.  Every second counts when escaping the ingredients of fire.  Also check the dates on your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, if they are 10 years old or older, they should be replaced.

·        Check exits from both your home and any place you go to ensure you will be able to get to safety.  Blocked exits resulting from improperly placed chairs, tables or even holiday decorations can result in the delay of getting out quickly and safely.  Be vigilant of these safety concerns whether at church, school or even your local favorite eatery.  Ensure snow is removed from the outside of doors as well.

·        When using portable unvented fuel-fired heaters, such as kerosene heaters, make sure to use only the recommended fuel specified in the owner’s manual and NEVER use gasoline.  Note:   Portable kerosene heaters are banned for use in Baltimore City.

·        If you find it necessary to use an electric space heater, use only one that has been approved by an authorized testing laboratory such as UL.  Plug space heaters directly into an outlet,never use an extension cord or power strip as they can easily overheat and cause a fire.

·        Keep all portable space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible.

·        If heating equipment fails, do not use kitchen stoves or ovens to supply heat.  These appliances are not designed for that purpose and the chance of a fire improves greatly.

·        When using fireplaces, woodstoves or pellet stoves; please ensure these heat sources have been installed and properly serviced by trained technicians according to state and local codes, allowing them to work at peak efficiency and lower the risk of a catastrophic failure.  Place ashes in a metal container with a lid.

·        Please ensure you have the chimney cleaned and inspected before use. 

·        Never leave candles burning unattended.  Extinguish the flame before leaving the room.  Consider battery operated candles instead of flaming candles for safety.

·        Prevent fires from starting on the stove by staying in the kitchen and monitoring the food as it is being prepared.  If a fire would occur in a pot or pan on the stove, calmly place a lid on it and turn off the burner.  Allow it to cool before removal from the stove.

·        If using a turkey fryer, please follow all safety precautions and manufacturer’s instructions. 

·        If you are using a cut tree for Christmas, special precautions need to be observed: Select a tree with green needles that do not remove too easily from the branches and the trunk should be sticky to the touch.  Place the tree in a location away from heat sources and add water every day during the recommended two-week life span while on display.

·        Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.  Ensure candles are placed well away from tree branches.  The use of battery operated candles is a much safer alternative.

·        Dried out trees can ignite more readily.  Remove the tree shortly after the holiday and place outdoors for disposal.

·        Inspect holiday lighting for frayed or damaged wiring and check for cracked sockets.  Replace strands with new sets as they become worn.  Follow manufacturer’s guidelines when attaching additional strands.

·        Always unplug or switch off all holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.

·        Take down holiday lighting after the holidays.  Holiday lights are temporary seasonal decorations that should be limited to 30 days use.

·        If a fire occurs inside your home, close the doors behind you as you vacate to the outside, call 911 and never go back inside the home.  Tell arriving first responders if anyone is still inside.

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