Make sure to stay safe while state is hit with extreme cold
As freezing temperatures blanket the state this week, in what is being called a "Polar Vortex," the Firemen's Association of the State of New York is reminding New Yorkers to be safe while heating their residences.
Though the life-threatening cold can seem harmful enough, families, homeowners and renters need to be aware of how they are heating up their homes. A space heater or a fireplace could put your home more at risk, and must be used safely. In addition, New Yorkers are urged to make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly and have working batteries.
"In order to help protect against the cold weather, we often see fires occur that could have easily been avoided. While keeping warm during this arctic blast, New Yorkers must be cognizant of the dangers that come with home heating devices," said FASNY President James Burns.
Statistics from the NFPA shows there is a historically elevated risk of dying from fire during the winter season, with December, January and February generally being the deadliest months for fires.
FASNY offers the following safety tips when using:
Portable space heaters:
•Never leave a portable space heater in a room unattended, and always follow manufacturer's instructions for proper use and maintenance.
•Use space heaters for a limited time each day.
•Never connect a space heater to an outlet with an extension cord.
•Unplug the unit when not in use. Let it cool down prior to storing the unit.
•Keep a window ajar or the door open in a room where an unvented heater is in use.
•Never use heaters to dry clothing or other combustibles.
•Make sure the flue is open before using a fireplace for the first time this season.
•Remove any and all obstructions from your chimney. Obstructions will cause carbon monoxide to back up into your home.
•Never leave a fireplace unattended.
•Chimneys and vents should be inspected and cleaned annually.
•Take care when stoking a fire. Do not burn newspapers or trash in a fireplace. Doing so may ignite a chimney fire or send flaming embers into your home, causing fire.
Gas or Electric Furnaces:
•If smoke emanating from the furnace turns black and the furnace starts to rumble, leave the building immediately, and call your local fire department.
•All heating units should be tuned up by a professional certified technician. Regular inspections and cleanings of your heating system help to ensure maximum efficiency during the winter months.
Coal and Wood Burning Stoves:
•Use coal only if specifically approved by the stove manufacturer. Gasoline or other flammable liquids should never be used to start a wood fire.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
•Test your home smoke alarms at least once per month. Do this by pressing the "test" button on the unit.
•If your detectors are battery operated, check the batteries often to make sure the units are operational.
•If you do not have one already installed, install a carbon monoxide detector to detect production of potentially lethal carbon monoxide by gas fireplaces, gas stoves, barbecues and gas furnaces.
•Use Daylight Saving Time as a biannual reminder to change your smoke detector and CO detector batteries twice a year.
For additional information on home heating safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association's website at www.nfpa.org.
Founded in 1872, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the more than 88,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York state. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.