The State Fire Marshal reminds folks that simple precautions and some common-sense practices can save lives.
Fire Marshal Randy Cole says cooking, improper cigarette disposal and supplemental heating sources — such as space heaters — are the top causes of residential fires.
He says this is the time to check basic safety devices. And, this is the time of year when people are starting to heat their homes, when fires due to furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters add risks.
Cole says another big concern is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can result from appliances that either aren’t functioning properly, or aren’t being used properly. He recommends everyone get a good maintenance plan in place for household appliances that can cause carbon monoxide emissions. And if those appliances are in people’s homes, they should get a carbon monoxide detector as well.
Cole says as winter rolls in, now is also the time to get flues and chimneys cleaned. He says people should never put cardboard and other trash in fireplaces and furnaces … the intense heat can ignite the flue and cause a house fire.
He says leaving things unattended on the stove is a risk that can lead to residential fires, “kids cause something to fall on a burner,” he says, and burns on children from pots and pans knocked over is a too-common incident. “People use their gas cookstove for supplemental heat, that can cause various issues, including carbon monoxide issues.”
He says his department has seen fires caused by people carrying ashes from wood-burning appliances putting them in plastic containers and setting them in the garage and those have ignited and caused a fire. Again, he stresses, it’s common-sense practices that prevent fires.
Cole says families need to have an evacuation plan in place, establish a meeting point outside of the house and make sure everyone is accounted for in the event of a fire.