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State Fire Marshal Reminds Residents to Plan for Winter

10/24/2003

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842


TALLAHASSEE – This weekend as Floridians are turning their clocks back to Daylight Saving Time, Florida's Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher says it's also time to put a fresh battery in the smoke alarm – or install an alarm.

"Working smoke detectors provide time to escape, reducing the risk of death or injury from fire by as much as 50 percent," Gallagher said.

Last year, 168 Floridians died from fire-related injuries and more than 900 were injured. Of the structure fires reported last year to the State Fire Marshal's Office, 91 percent had no smoke detector.

Earlier this month, a Pensacola woman died in a fire at her home. Investigators said her smoke alarm had a dead battery, and that it functioned properly when tested with a new one. Just this week, four members of an Immokalee family died in a fire in their home. Investigators said there was no smoke alarm.

"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."

Some important safety tips to keep in mind:


· Have gas heaters and other gas appliances checked for leaks or damage.

· Have air conditioner handlers checked for any dust that could spark a fire when the heater is turned on for the first time.

· 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.

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

· Review and practice your family's fire escape plan.

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