County warns about fires

JOHNSTOWN — The National Weather Service in Albany is predicting bitter cold weather into at least the middle of next week. With the bitter cold comes an increased risk of home heating fires, according to a news release from the Fulton County Office of Civil Defense and Fire Coordinator Steven Santa Maria.

∫ From 2013to 2015, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred in the United States each year. These fires caused an annual average of approximately 205 deaths, 725 injuries and $506 million in property loss.

∫ Heating was the second leading cause of home fires after cooking.

∫ Home heating fires peaked in the early evening hours between 5 and 9 p.m. with the highest peak between 6 and 8 p.m. This four-hour period accounted for 29 percent of all home heating fires.

∫ Confined fires — fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners — accounted for 75 percent of home heating fires.

∫ Twenty-nine percent of the non-confined home heating fires — fires that spread past the object of origin — happened because the heat source (like a space heater or fire place) was too close to things that can bum.

In Fulton County there were two very close calls Tuesday. One involved combustible material being placed too close to a woodstove. The second incident was caused by a poorly maintained pellet stove and chimney assembly.

Here are some heating tips to help maintain a fire-safe home for you and your family this winter.

∫ Keep anything that can bum at least three feet away from any heating sources

Electric space heaters

∫ Make sure portable heaters have an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over, it shuts off.

∫ Tum portable heaters off when going to bed

∫ Plug portable heaters directly into outlets. Never use an extension cord or power strips.

∫ Use only portable heaters from a recognized testing laboratory

Fireplaces, woodstoves and pellet stoves

∫ Do not burn paper in these heating devices

∫ Put ashes in a metal container with a metal lid outside, at least three feet from your home.

∫ It is never a good idea to leave a fire unattended, especially in a woodstove or fireplace.

∫ Keep your chimney clean. Have it inspected annually by a professional.

∫ Always use a metal or heat tempered glass screen when using your fireplace.

Furnace

∫ Have your furnace inspected each year

∫ Keep anything that can burn away from the furnace

Kerosene heater

∫ Only use heaters from a recognized testing laboratory

∫ Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over, it shuts off.

∫ Refuel your heater outside of the resident.

∫ Kerosene heaters are illegal in multi-family dwellings in New York State.

Be prepared

∫ Install and maintain smoke detectors on every level of your home and in each sleeping area.

∫ Develop and practice a home escape plan or have a family communication plan

If you would like further information, or have any additional questions, please feel free to contact the Fulton County Fire Coordinator’s Office at (518) 736-5858 or your local fire department.

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