December 01, 2013
Keep Warm Keep Safe Campaign
CHIEF REARDON AND STATE FIRE MARSHAL URGE RESIDENTS TO KEEP WARM, KEEP SAFE THIS WINTER
CAMBRIDGE FIRE DEPARTMENT PROMOTES SIMPLE WINTER HEATING SAFETY TIPS
CAMBRIDGE -- As the temperature continues to drop, Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald R. Reardon and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan urge residents to take simple steps to ensure they stay warm and stay safe this winter.
“As families plan for the winter months, it is more important than ever to practice safety first when heating your home,” said Chief Reardon of the Cambridge Fire Department. “It’s important to give furnaces an annual check-up because efficiently running furnaces save money and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning,” he added, “Certified professionals should check chimneys for cracks in the mortar and clean accumulated creosote to prevent chimney fires.”
Heating is the second leading cause of fires in the home in Massachusetts. One of every 20 space heater fires in the past five years has caused a fire death. December through February are the traditionally the peak months for house fires as the cold weather drives people indoors, heating systems are taxed, and there is more use of space heaters.
Heating is also the leading cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure you have both working smoke AND carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of your home. Test the alarms once a month and change batteries twice a year. Make sure to check on elderly neighbors regularly in the cold months.
“Tragedy frequently strikes in winter months where many fire deaths are caused by heating,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “We can’t stress enough the importance of taking precautions with space heaters, keeping them at least three feet from anything that can burn, and properly disposing of woodstove ashes, as simple steps to safeguard you and your family this winter.”
The Department of Fire Services, along with the Cambridge Fire Department, will educate residents about winter fire safety through the Keep Warm, Keep Safe public awareness campaign. Components will include radio and television ads, English/Spanish ads in public transit systems, multi-language flyers and brochure, and a grassroots outreach effort led by local fire departments.
Residents often turn to space heaters, pellet stoves, or their fireplace to offset the rising cost of heating fuel. For the most part, these alternative heating devices can be safe. However, there are simple steps you can take to safeguard you and your family this winter.
Space heaters can cause fires if they are placed too close to flammable materials such as drapes, furniture or bedding. Keep anything that can burn three feet away from the space heater and use only heavy-duty extension cords.
If you heat your home by burning solid fuels (coal, firewood, pellets), make sure to dispose of the ashes properly. Place ashes in a metal ash can with a secure lid and place it away from the house, garage and deck. A single ember can stay hot for days without being detected and easily fanned back to life. Do not place ashes in cardboard boxes or plastic containers, inside the garage, the breezeway, or under the porch. Have the chimney annually cleaned by a certified professional who can also check for cracked or broken mortar.
Natural gas and fuel oil are both safe and efficient. Make sure to have a professional clean and tune-up your furnace and hot water heater every year. Gas leaks can be poisonous so the gas company adds something to make it smell like rotten eggs. If you suspect a leak, move outdoors and contact the local fire department immediately.
For more information on winter heating and fire safety, visit www.mass.gov/keepwarmkeepsafe.
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