When the weather turns cold and the heaters go on, heating becomes the number one cause of house fires in Montgomery County Pete Piringer, public information officer with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said.
“Typically it is just clutter too close to the heat source,” he said. “Or it’s not properly maintained.”
Piringer recommends that residents get their furnaces and chimneys inspected and cited the importance of proper disposal of fireplaces ashes.
“We’ve already had a couple of instances of [fires] from improperly disposed fireplace ashes,” he said. “They put them in a plastic or paper bag in the garage or on the deck. We recommend [ashes] be placed in a metal container with a cover.”
As for space heaters and fireplaces, he said Montgomery Fire and Rescue recommends a circle of safety around any heat source. Three feet is the rule of thumb, he said.
Most of the year cooking is the main source of house fires, Piringer said and holiday time is no exception to that danger. A few hints from the Fire and Rescue Service website:
Never leave cooking food unattended.
Wear close fitting clothing when cooking.
Put pans on back burners and turn all pot handles toward the back of the stove. Never leave a child unattended in the kitchen. Close supervision is essential, whether children are helping an adult cook or simply watching.
With the distractions of the holidays, Piringer said, people tend to forget things, like what’s cooking on the stove.
The good news, he said is that they do not have many fires involving Christmas trees, but it’s always important to keep them watered and to check electric wires.
“If you are still using lights your grandmother had,” he said, “It’s time to change them.”
Piringer also warns of the danger of leaving candles burning and recommends residents check wires on all holiday decorations and extension cords.
A holiday safety check list available on the Fire and Rescue Service website also reminds residents to have smoke detectors on every level of their homes and to check them monthly.
For more information, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcfrs-info.