Tennessee Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak wants to remind Tennesseans to keep safe and warm, as colder weather becomes more common across the state. But she urges residents to be cautious in the use of alternate heat sources.
"The colder weather means many people will begin to heat their homes with fireplaces, woodstoves and space heaters," said McPeak. "Cold weather months typically have a higher number of accidental fire injuries and deaths, due to the use of these alternate heat sources.”
“Tennessee occupies an undesirably high spot in recurring rankings of states with fire deaths,” McPeak said. “One of the main causes remains falling asleep while smoking. If you smoke, please refrain from doing so in a bed or chair in which you tend to fall asleep.”
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.
•Where independent lab logos are concerned, try to purchase surge protectors from established retailers. Some bargain retailers have unwittingly sold lower-quality surge protectors bearing counterfeit markings of independent testing labs. Some labs have begun using holographic labeling to combat the counterfeiting of their seals.
•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 – this includes decorative candles.
•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, if the vents blow warm air, there will be little worry of the items catching fire.