PROVIDENCE, RI — Acting Fire Marshal James Gumbley warned risk of injury and death from home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning increases during severe cold weather, and urged Rhode Islanders to take care as they attempt to keep warm during the cold snap forecast for the next several days.
“The single most important step people can take to protect themselves is to make sure they have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms,” said Acting Fire Marshal James Gumbley. “These devices are proven to save lives in the event of a fire or buildup of deadly carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that is known as the invisible killer.”
Gumbley said smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms should be located on every level of the home, including the basement. Smoke alarms also should be installed inside bedrooms, especially when people sleep with their bedroom doors closed, and outside all sleeping areas. Both types of alarms should be tested at least once a month and replaced if not working properly or more than 10 years old.
Gumbley offered additional safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Fire Protection Administration and other public safety agencies:
- Keep flammable materials at least three feet from any heat source or equipment, including the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable heater.
- Never use an oven or stove to heat a home.
- Do not use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage or basement.
- Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks and embers from escaping. Ashes should be allowed to cool and then placed in metal containers a safe distance from your home.
- Keep portable heaters away from walls, furniture, curtains and flammable materials. Never use extension cords and do not plug more than one portable heater into an outlet.
- Turn off portable heaters when leaving the house or going to bed.
Marshal Gumbley noted that four out of every five deaths in fires attributed to heating systems are caused by portable heaters, which are responsible for about one-third of all home heating fires.