Gallagher Provides Floridians with Holiday Fire Safety Tips
CONTACT: Nina Banister or Jeff Takacs
TALLAHASSEE – As Floridians prepare for chilly weather and the 2006 holiday season by turning up their heaters and setting out candles and lights, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging residents to keep safety in mind.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 73 percent of home-heating deaths are attributed to space heaters. The association also reports that real or artificial Christmas trees were the first item in the home to ignite in an estimated average of 310 reported U.S. home structure fires per year in 1999-2002. These fires caused an average of 14 civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage per year.
"This time of year we see a large number of preventable fires that occur in Florida's homes," Gallagher said. "I urge all Floridians to be cautious, have working smoke alarms and fire escape plans."
Gallagher encourages all Floridians to follow these simple fire safety tips:
• Make sure you have smoke detectors and make sure they work.
• Create a fire escape plan for your family and practice carrying out the plan.
• Use flashlights instead of candles if electrical power is knocked out.
• Plug electric space heaters directly into wall outlets. Do not use extension cords.
• Keep space heaters and other heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture, walls and drapes and never use a space heater in a bedroom.
• Before using a fireplace, make sure the chimney flue is open so carbon monoxide gas can escape.
• If your natural gas is shut off or the pilot light needs to be re-lit, contact your local gas company. Do not attempt to turn the gas on or light the pilot on your own.
• Water Christmas trees daily.
• Don't let tree lights touch needles or curtains.
• Turn out lights and snuff candles before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Keep candles out of reach of children and pets and use sturdy candleholders.
• Have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.
"Education and awareness are critical to help prevent home fires," Gallagher said. "These tips can help save lives."