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Press Release State Fire Marshal Issues Storm Fire Safety Tips Keep Warm, Keep Safe

State Fire Marshal Issues Storm Fire Safety Tips Keep Warm, Keep Safe
For immediate release:
1/03/2018
  • Department of Fire Services

Media Contact for State Fire Marshal Issues Storm Fire Safety Tips Keep Warm, Keep Safe

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

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STOW — State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey issued safety tips to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning (CO) as people struggle to survive the upcoming storm and face the bitter cold headed our way. “Many have already been struggling to keep warm and safely deal with frozen pipes this week. This upcoming storm may leave many without power. Keep a difficult situation from getting worse, stay safe as you try to cook and have light and heat as the temperatures dip tonight to dangerous levels.” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “We’ll all be struggling to keep warm, but it’s important to also keep safe,” he added.

Make Sure Smoke Alarms and CO Alarms are Working

“One of the simplest steps for safety you can take is to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working. They will give you the earliest possible warning that something is wrong so you can escape safely,” said Fire Marshal Ostroskey. Hard-wired alarms will rely on the battery-backup during a power outage. If the power is out for an extended time, you may have to replace the back-up batteries.

Heating #1 Cause of CO in the Home

Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer because you cannot see it, taste it or smell it. Breathing CO makes people feel nauseas, dizzy, headachy, and tired like having the flu. It poisons the body by removing oxygen in the blood stream, slowly suffocating victims. It makes it hard to think clearly and sleeping people will not wake up without an alarm. Heating appliances are the leading producers of carbon monoxide in the home and the risk increases when they are working harder.

Space Heater Safety

Be sure to plug space heaters directly into the wall. Most space heater fires are caused when extension cords are used, or when the electrical system is overtaxed. Shut them off when you go to bed or leave the house; don’t leave them running unattended. Remember that space heaters need space, and should be have 3-feet around them clear of anything that can catch fire. Make sure nothing can fall onto them, like blankets. Space heaters are not designed to replace central heating, so running constantly can cause a fire. Unvented kerosene heaters are illegal inside homes in Mass

Woodstove Safety

Many woodstoves will be working hard to keep up with this bitter cold. Don’t overload the stove; keep wood and combustibles 3-feet away. Dispose of ashes in a metal can with a lid outdoors, away from the house. A single ember can stay hot and undetected for days and a little breeze or contact with other trash can bring them roaring back to life.

Generator Safety

Generators are a leading source of CO poisoning. It’s important to know how to use them safely:

  • Place a generator outdoors facing away from doors, windows and vents. Never use a generator inside a house, basement or crawl space – not even inside a garage with the door open. When possible, place the generator 5-10 feet away from the house.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator or use heavy-duty, outdoor rated extension cords, not to exceed the number of outlets on the generator. Make sure cords are free of cuts and tears and have all three prongs – especially the grounding pin.
  • Keep the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open canopy or tent.
  • Dry your hands before touching the generator.
  • Let the generator cool before refueling. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

Cooking Safely

“If you’re using a barbecue grill to cook, do so outdoors, not inside the garage,” said Ostroskey, “Using a propane grill inside risks carbon monoxide poisoning and using any type of grill inside runs the risk of causing a fire.”

Candle Safety Tips

“It’s safer to use flashlights and battery-operated candles for light rather than traditional open flame ones,” said Ostroskey.  He offered these candle safety tips:

    • Burn candles within a one-foot circle, free of anything that can burn.
    • Before you go out, blow it out; never leave candles burning unattended.
    • Always extinguish candles after use.
    • Use a non-combustible saucer or candle holder.
    • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.

The Department of Fire Services offers heating, generator, carbon monoxide and candle safety tips on its website. Search on www.mass.gov/dfs.

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Media Contact for State Fire Marshal Issues Storm Fire Safety Tips Keep Warm, Keep Safe

Department of Fire Services 

The Department of Fire Services provides training for firefighters, fire prevention, fire code enforcement, education to the general public, and oversees fire investigations through the Office of the State Fire Marshal. We support the fire service in the protection of life and property, promote and enhance firefighter safety, and provide fire service leadership through policy and legislation.

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