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State Fire Marshal Reminds Residents to Plan for Winter


TALLAHASSEE - As temperatures drop, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to check and clean heaters and chimneys and put a fresh battery in the smoke detector.

"More home fires occur in the fall and winter than at any other time of the year," Gallagher said. "Take the time this year to eliminate the fire hazards in your home. Doing so could save your life and the lives of your loved ones."

Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Office already have seen several cold-weather related fires, including one caused by a gas leak in a propane gas heater and another when dust in an air conditioner handler ignited when the heater was turned on for the first time this year.

Other cold-weather fire risks include portable heaters too close to combustible items, dirty chimneys, overloaded and improperly placed extension cords, and candles. Here are important safety tips to keep in mind:

Keep space heaters and other heat sources at least three feet away from furniture, walls and drapes.

Clean chimneys regularly, even if they are not used often. Besides soot, birds and squirrels may leave behind unexpected items - such as a nest. Do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood.

Check extension cords for wear. Do not place cords under a rug or in a high-traffic area where it could be flattened or damaged.

Burn candles in a sturdy holder and keep them away from children and pets.

Have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.

Make sure your smoke detector is working and has a fresh battery.

Review your family's fire escape plan.

For more fire safety tips, visit and follow the prompts for the State Fire Marshal's Office.