For the Cumberland Times-News
PIKESVILLE — State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard wants to remind all Marylanders to check for fire safety where they live, work and even attend classes, trainings and meetings.
“Fire and life safety is everyone’s responsibility. By testing smoke alarms, keeping exits clear of obstructions and maintaining fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems, we can all avoid injury or death from fire,” said Barnard.
To ensure your best chances of surviving a fire, the Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following tips on both escaping a fire and preventing one:
• Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working properly. The effects of toxic smoke and gases can quickly overcome your ability to think clearly.
• Check exits in both the home and any place visited to ensure getting out to safety. Blocked exits resulting from improperly placed chairs, tables or even holiday decorations can result in the delay of getting out quickly and safely.
• When using portable unvented fuel-fired heaters, such as kerosene heaters, make sure to only use the recommended fuel specified in the owner’s manual and never use gasoline.
• Keep all portable space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible.
• If heating equipment fails, do not use kitchen stoves or ovens to supply heat. These devices are not designed for that purpose and the chance of a fire improves greatly.
• When using fireplaces, woodstoves or pellet stoves, ensure these heat sources have been installed and properly serviced by trained technicians according to state and local codes, which will allow them to work at peak efficiency and lower the risk of a catastrophic failure.
• Never leave candles burning unattended. Extinguish the flame before leaving the room. Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Ensure candles are placed well away from tree branches.
• Prevent fires from starting on the stove by staying in the kitchen and monitoring the food as it is being prepared. If a fire would occur in a pot or pan on the stove, calmly place a lid on it and turn off the burner. Allow it to cool before removal from the stove.
• Inspect holiday lighting for frayed or damaged wiring and check for cracked sockets. Replace strands with new sets as they become worn. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines when attaching additional strands.
• Always unplug or switch off all holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
• Take down holiday lighting after the holidays. Holiday lights are temporary seasonal decorations that should be limited to 90 days use.
• Dried out trees can ignite more readily. Remove the tree shortly after the holiday and place outdoors.