Fire marshal urges caution during cold
Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2011 9:06 pm
Department of Com-merce and Insurance Com-missioner and Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak wants to remind Tennesseans to keep safe and warm, as freezing temperatures continually move across the state. She urges residents to be cautious in the use of alternative heat sources.
“The winter weather means many people are heating their homes with fireplaces, woodstoves and space heaters,” said Ms. McPeak. “Cold weather months typically have a higher number of accidental fire injuries and deaths due to the use of these alternative heat sources.”
Following a few safety tips can greatly reduce the risk of fires:
• Make it a “house rule” to test your home’s smoke alarms, before using a space heater or fireplace. All smoke alarms should additionally be tested once a month. Doing so could save your life.
• Space heaters need space. Never put a space heater within three feet of anything combustible, including furniture, bedding or aerosol cans. Make sure your space heater bears the mark of an independent testing lab such as UL or FM. Look for models with automatic shutoff features, when purchasing space heaters. Never use extension cords with space heaters.
• Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney has been professionally cleaned to remove the buildup of combustible materials that accumulate inside the flue.
• Be sure any kerosene-fueled heating device is installed with proper ventilation. A portable kerosene heater must be filled only in a well-ventilated area, free of flame and other heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the type of kerosene specified by the manufacturer and never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
• Never leave a fire, space heater or flame unattended.
Additionally, make sure furniture, clothing and other combustible materials are not placed in front of permanently mounted heaters like those in walls or on baseboards. That way, when the heat turns on, there will be no worry of the items igniting.
The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.
Published in The Messenger 2.10.11