By Robert W. Seltzer

Winter and the holiday season are both upon us –

Here are some safety tips to guide you through both

Space Heater Safety

Only use space heaters with an Underwriter’s Laboratory approval or other recognized national testing laboratory.
Keep a three-foot clearance between all heating equipment and anything that can burn.
Turn off portable space heaters whenever leaving a room and before bed.
Do not use your oven to heat your home.

Fireplace Safety

Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a licensed professional before burning.
Always burn dry, clean wood.
Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
Do not use accelerants like gasoline or lighter fluid to start a fire.
Use a metal container with a lid to remove ashes.
Do not use plastic, paper, or cardboard containers to remove ashes, as those materials could easily catch fire.
Place metal container with embers far away from your home and any combustible material.
Do not vacuum hot embers.

General Fire Safety Considerations

Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
Test smoke alarms monthly.
Replace batteries at least once a year, or immediately if the low battery warning chirps.
Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The symptoms may include one or several of the following:

Chest pain

Carbon monoxide detectors are the best way to protect yourself against this invisible killer.

Install a CO alarm outside each sleeping area and test each month.
If the CO alarm sounds, get to fresh air and call the fire department immediately.

To prevent carbon monoxide accumulation in your home:

Clear snow away from vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace during and after a snowstorm.
Keep generators outside and away from doors, windows, and vent openings.
Have heating system and chimneys inspected each year before use.
Open the damper when using a fireplace.

Holiday Decorations Safety


If you like to burn candles, there are some safety tips you should keep in mind.

Blow out candles when you leave a room or go to bed.
Avoid using candles in the bedroom or other areas where people fall asleep.
Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily and place on a sturdy, clutter-free surface.
Keep hair and clothing away from the flame.
Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.

Live Christmas Trees

Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched.
Before placing in stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
Keep tree at least three feet away from any heat source.
Make sure tree is not blocking an exit.
Add water to tree stand daily.

The Lights

Use lights that have the label of an Underwriter’s Laboratory approval or other recognized national testing laboratory.
Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
Always turn of tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Happy holidays from the men and women

of the Smithfield Fire Department!