State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci is reminding residents to use best practices when heating their homes as temperatures continue to drop. Heating equipment is involved in one out of every five home fire-related deaths, and half of all home heating fires will occur during the months of December, January, and February.
“Like clockwork, my office will report to a fire in the coming months as a result of a space heater or fireplace,” said Fire Marshal Geraci. “It is my life’s work to eliminate home fire deaths, a mission that every Maryland resident can help us to achieve by using best practices when it comes to heating their homes this fall and winter.”
For homeowners with fireplaces, be sure to have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents annually. Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet from you home and any other structure.
For homeowners utilizing portable space heaters, please follow the advice below to ensure safe use:
- Only use a portable heater that has a qualified testing laboratory seal.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including people.
- Use a heater with a thermostat and overheating protection.
- Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off in the event that it is tipped over.
- Keep children away from space heaters and do not allow it to block an exit.
- Plug the heater into a grounded wall outlet only, never to an extension cord.
- Turn the heater off whenever you leave the room or before going to sleep.
It is paramount that you never use your oven as a heat source and that you have working carbon monoxide alarms that are tested monthly. In the event of a power outage, all portable generators should be located as far away from your home as possible, especially away from windows. Remember, it is better to be safe and stay at another location – such as a family member or friend’s house, a motel, or local shelter – then to use risky practices to alternatively heat your home when the main heat source isn’t functioning.