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CFO Sink Offers Heating Safety Tips as Florida Faces Freezing Temps


CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Jennifer Hirst, (850) 413-2842
TALLAHASSEE – As Floridians across the state face freezing cold temperatures, CFO and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink today offered fire safety precautions to take when families use their space heaters, wood burning stoves and fireplaces. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires in the nation during the months of December, January and February.
“These frigid temperatures have Floridians looking for ways to keep their homes warm, but it’s important to take certain precautions when using space heaters or fireplaces,” said State Fire Marshal Alex Sink.  “By following some simple safety tips, you can keep you family safe and warm during this cold front and throughout the winter months.”
A leading factor contributing to home heating fires and deaths is heating equipment placed too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. Many heating fires can be prevented by following basic safety tips when dealing with any heating equipment:
Space Heaters:
  • Keep or maintain a 3 foot clearance between all heating equipment and anything that can burn, and never use a space heater to dry clothing.
  • Inspect and maintain heating equipment regularly for safety.
  • Be sure to have fixed space heaters installed by a qualified technician, according to manufacturer’s instructions or applicable codes.  Or, make sure a qualified technician checks to see the unit has been properly installed.
  • When buying a new, portable space heater, make sure it has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Space heaters should be turned off every time you leave the room and before going to bed.
Wood Burning Stoves and Fireplaces:
  • Use a metal or glass fireplace screen to keep sparks from hitting nearby carpets or furniture.
  • Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly.  Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (3 feet) from combustible surfaces and flammable materials and proper floor support and protection.
  • Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
  • Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out.  NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace.  A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.

Install at least one CO alarm with an audible warning signal near sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms.  CO alarms measure levels of the gas over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. [source:]

For more information and fire safety tips, visit CFO Sink’s State Fire Marshal web site at  
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, CFO Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services.  A successful businesswoman with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, Sink is serving her first term as Florida's CFO.  As CFO, Sink's priorities include using her business experience to cut wasteful government spending, cracking down on financial and insurance fraud and reforming the state government's contracting practices. Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.