As the temperatures drop below freezing and snow accumulation increases in the Ocean City area, the Ocean City Fire Department would like to remind citizens and visitors to consider fire safety when utilizing supplemental sources of heat in their homes. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), winter residential building fires result in an estimated average of 945 deaths, over 3,820 injuries, and $1.7 billion dollars in property loss each year.
“Usually, fires caused by heating sources occur because the devices weren’t cleaned regularly,” said Ocean City Fire Marshal David Hartley. “If heating sources are placed or installed too close to combustible materials, has design or operational flaws, or were fueled improperly, they can easily become a fire hazard. We want to citizens to be warm and be safe at the same time.”
To prevent the loss of life and property resulting from heating fires, the Ocean City Fire Department recommends a few tips to help identify potential hazards:
- Make sure all heaters have space by keeping anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
- Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Make sure all fuel-burning heating equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
- Only purchase portable space heaters with an automatic shut-off so if they’re tipped over they will shut off.
- Allow wood stove and fireplace ashes to cool before disposing of them in a tightly covered metal container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from your home.
For additional heating fire safety tips, visit: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/hotspot.shtm.