As Floridians crank up their heaters and fireplaces and set out the holiday candles and lights, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging residents to keep safety in mind.
“The number of home fires usually doubles in December, but most can be prevented,” Gallagher said. “The most important safety precautions are having working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan.”
Other seasonal fire safety tips, including a new Home and Holiday Fire Safety CD, are available at www.fldfs.com. Throughout December, fire prevention specialists with the State Fire Marshal’s Office will disseminate the CD at fairs and various educational programs throughout the state.
The most important tips Gallagher is urging Floridians to follow are:
* Make sure you have smoke detectors and make sure they work.
* Use a flashlight instead of candles if electrical power is knocked out.
* Plug electric space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use them with an extension cord.
* Keep space heaters and other heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture, walls and drapes.
* Before using a fireplace, make sure the chimney flue is open so carbon monoxide gas can escape.
* If your natural gas is shut off or the pilot light needs to be re-lit, contact your local gas company. Do not attempt to turn it on yourself.
* Water live trees daily.
* Don’t let tree lights touch needles or curtains.
* Turn out lights and snuff candles before going to bed or leaving the house.
* Keep candles out of reach of children and pets and use sturdy candleholders.
* Have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.
In October, Gallagher sent illustrated growth charts with age-appropriate fire safety tips to third-graders throughout Florida to encourage families to talk about fire safety. The State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Department of Financial Services also have worked with the Department of Elder Affairs to produce and distribute a fire safety CD for senior citizens.
“Awareness is critical when it comes to keeping your family and your home safe,” Gallagher said. “These tips can help save lives.”
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