Cold weather prompts fire safety reminders from state fire marshal

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MONTGOMERY – Home heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths, injuries and property damage, and with bitter cold freezing temperatures and wind chills forecast for the next few days; your Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) offers a few timely simple safety tips to help Alabama’s citizens stay warm and safe.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
  • Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone around open fires and space heaters.
  • NEVER use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to state and local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • ALWAYS use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.  NEVER use natural gas in LP gas appliances or vice versa.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Remember to test your smoke alarms monthly and any alarm, more than 10 years old, should be replaced.
  • Plug only ONE heat-producing appliance, such as a space heater, into an electrical outlet at a time.

According to Alabama State Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen, “Over half of Alabama’s home heating fires are reported during the colder months of December, January and February, so using common sense could easily save your life.”

Nationally, heating equipment is involved in one of every seven house fires and one in every six home fire deaths.

More fire safety information is available online at firemarshal.alabama.gov or the SFMO, a division of the Alabama Department of Insurance, at 334-241-4166. To report arson or a suspicious fire, contact the Alabama Arson Hotline at 1-800-654-0775.