In a recent press release, the Middletown Fire Department reminds the community how to remain safe during the winter season:
With the cold weather starting to come into this area, the Middletown Fire Department would like to remind residents to be extra careful when using alternative heating sources. Fireplaces, wood burning stoves, pellet stoves, LP gas heaters, and electric powered radiators all offer opportunities for equipment failure which could cause fire or carbon monoxide emergencies to increase.
Alternative Heating Sources:
Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, chimney connections and all other solid-fueled heating equipment inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned as often as inspections suggest. Use only properly seasoned hardwood to reduce creosote build-up.
Make sure your fireplace has a well fitting screen or glass doors to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Allow fireplace and woodstove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container.
Portable and fixed space heaters must carry the mark of an independent testing laboratory, and fixed heaters must be installed by a qualified technician according to manufacturer’s instructions or applicable codes. Keep or maintain a 36-inch clearance between space heaters and anything that can burn. Portable space heaters should be turned off every time you leave the room or go to bed.
Have any gas-fueled (Propane or Natural Gas) heating device installed with proper attention to ventilation. Keep combustible items at least 36-inches away from devices. Fire codes prohibit the use of portable kerosene heaters in multi-family dwellings.
Never leave unattended. Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to bed. Keep away from items that can catch fire, like clothing curtains or presents. Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids. Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily, and are made from a material that cannot burn. During power outages, avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights.
Install CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating CO. Alarms should be installed outside each separate sleeping area. Test alarms monthly and replace according to manufacturer’s instructions. Carbon monoxide can affect a home very quickly without being detectable by the body’s senses. Symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic the common flu. The CDC reports that the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If a person suspects elevated carbon monoxide levels, they should call 911.
Tips for carbon monoxide safety:
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting. Do not run a vehicle, generator, or other fueled engine or motor indoors even if garage doors are open.
- During and after a snow storm, make sure vents for dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation.
- Have fuel-burning household heating equipment inspected annually.
- Only use barbecue grills outside.
- CO alarms ARE NOT substitutes for smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level in the home and in every bedroom.
Questions or concerns may be directed to the Middletown Fire Department Fire Marshal’s office (860) 343-8012.