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Press Release Fire Officials Offer Safety Advice for Merrimack Valley Residents

Caution Use Space Heaters, Grills, and Hot Plates Safely
For immediate release:
9/23/2018
  • Department of Fire Services

Media Contact for Fire Officials Offer Safety Advice for Merrimack Valley Residents

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

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STOWState Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “These are difficult times in the Merrimack Valley as people struggle to find alternatives to cook, keep warm or cool, or have hot water. It is important to use these alternatives safely to prevent fires and burns.”

Columbia Gas is working to provide those who need them with hot plates and space heaters. Fire officials want to reduce the added fire risk these items pose and ask the public to use them safely to prevent additional fires. “Hot plates should be used on the counter surface and turned off when not in use,” said Ostroskey, “Keep a one-foot circle of safety around the hot plate free of items that can catch fire like oven mitts and paper towels.” Please follow these safety tips for using hot plates and electric skillets:

Hot Plate & Electric Skillet Safety Tips

  • Only use hot plates and electric skillets on the countertop.
  • Keep a 1-foot circle of safety around it; clear of anything that can catch fire.
  • Turn off when not in use.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking; stand by your pan.
  • Teach children to keep 3 giant steps from any cooking (the stove, a grill, or a hot plate).
  • Have a pot cover nearby to “put a lid” on a fire. Then unplug the hot plate if it is safe to do so.
  • Plug hot plates and electric skillets directly into the wall; do not use extension cords or power strips.
  • If the device trips the breaker or blows a fuse, stop using it right away and call an electrician or ask the landlord to so.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more cooking fire and burn safety tips go to: Cooking Fire and Burn Safety.

“Space heaters and other heat generating appliances can easily overload electrical systems which is why electricians are part of the installation teams,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “They will make sure the outlets are grounded and determine which ones can safely provide the electricity needed for a heater.”

He added, “It is very important for residents to plug these heaters directly into the designated outlet. Do not use extension cords or power strips which is how most space heater fires start.”

Space Heater Safety Fire Safety Tips

  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets.
  • Do not use extension cords or power strips.
  • Keep space heaters 3-feet away from anything that can catch fire (bedding, furniture, newspapers).
  • Teach children to stay 3-giant steps away from the heater.
  • Do not put anything on the heater; do not put clothes on the heater to dry.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave the house or go to bed. Don’t leave running unattended.
  • Space heaters are designed for temporary use only, not to replace central heating.
  • If the device trips the breaker or blows a fuse, stop using it right away and call an electrician or ask the landlord to so.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more winter heating safety tips in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Russian, go to: Learn about winter home heating.

Grill Safety

“New Englanders like to grill all year long, but it is important to do so safely,” said Ostroskey.

  • Use grills outside, 10-feet from the house.
  • Do not use grills on porches.
  • Teach children to keep 3 giant steps away.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

“Working smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire; they give you precious seconds to escape a fire,” said Ostroskey. “Have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside bedrooms and discuss your fire escape plan with the whole family,” he added. Home escape plans should have two ways out of every room and a family meeting place outside.

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Media Contact for Fire Officials Offer Safety Advice for Merrimack Valley Residents

Department of Fire Services 

The Department of Fire Services helps keep communities safe. We provide firefighter training, public education, fire prevention, code enforcement, licensing, fire investigation, hazardous material response, and emergency response.

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