As the temperatures drop below normal with wind chills expected to be well below freezing, we depend on multiple types of heat sources to stay warm inside our homes.  State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci is providing Marylanders life and home saving heating safety tips.  “Various heat sources continue to play a major role involving home fires in Maryland,” according to State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.  “Please follow these basic guidelines, so we can work together to reduce the number of residential fires in order to prevent injuries and deaths from occurring in our homes.”

  • Ensure chimneys are cleaned annually or more frequently if used as the primary heating source.
  • Use properly sized fireplace screens or enclosures.  Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire in a fireplace or woodstove.
  • When disposing of cooled ashes, do not use paper, cardboard or plastic containers to remove them; instead use a metal container with a lid.  Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out.
  • Make sure fuel burning stoves are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.
  • Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure they are clean and placed on a flat level surface.  Use only “listed” appliances by an approved testing laboratory and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters.  The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire.
  • If you use kerosene fuel fired heaters, use only “K-1” kerosene fuel.  Never fill the unit inside, remove it to the exterior after it has cooled before refueling.  Note: Portable kerosene heaters are banned for use in Baltimore City.
  • Open a window enough to provide proper exchange of air for ventilation.
  • Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.), at least (3) three feet from all heat sources.  Combustibles placed to close can ignite quite easily.                                                                                                                           
  • Fuel burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide.  Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide levels.
  • Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods.  Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.
  • Range tops and ovens should never be used as a heat source.  These devices are designed for food preparation only. 

Along with these heating tips, check to make sure your smoke alarms and CO detectors are in good working order.  These devices should be replaced every 10 years to ensure they operate as early as they are designed. “Routine maintenance and safe operation of heating equipment, combined with properly installed and operating smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, are a life-saving combination for all Marylanders,” stated Geraci.