Keep Warm Keep Safe

12/16/20167 years ago

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Chief Gerald R. Reardon and State Fire Marshal Urge Residents to Keep Warm, Keep Safe This Winter

Cambridge Fire Department Offers Tips on Preparing Your Home for the Winter Heating Season

Cambridge -- As the winter heating season starts again in New England, people are getting their homes ready for the long winter months. As residents start to turn on the furnace or light up the wood stove, Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald R. Reardon and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey urge residents to take simple steps to ensure they stay warm and stay safe this winter.

“No one thinks fire will happen to them, but it is more important than ever to practice safety first when heating your home,” said Chief Reardon of the Cambridge Fire Department. “Give furnaces an annual check-up because efficiently running furnaces save money and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning,” he added, “Certified professionals will check chimneys for cracks in the mortar and clean accumulated creosote to prevent chimney fires.”

Heating is the second leading cause of fires in the home in Massachusetts. Home fires peak from December through February when the cold weather drives people indoors, heating systems are in regular use, and people turn to alternatives such as space heaters and wood or pellet stoves.

“Heating is also the leading cause of carbon monoxide poisoning in homes, so make sure you have both working smoke AND carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of your home,” said Chief Reardon. Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer because it has no color, taste or smell and the symptoms are just like getting the flu. Test all the alarms once a month and change alkaline batteries twice a year. Replace smoke alarms that are older than ten and CO alarms older than seven. He added, “When replacing alarms, look for models with a 10-year, sealed, non-replaceable, non-rechargeable battery. Offer to check and replace the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for older relatives and neighbors.”

Dispose of the ashes in a metal container, with a secure lid, away from the house. A single ember can stay hot for days without being detected and easily fanned back to life. So many fires have started when ashes were placed inside cardboard boxes, paper bags or plastic containers, and then stored inside the garage, the breezeway, or under the porch.

Store wood outdoors and pellets for stoves indoors but away from heat sources. A woman died in a fire this fall when the newly delivered pellets were placed too close to her water heater.

About the Keep Warm Keep Safe Campaign

The Department of Fire Services, along with the Cambridge Fire Department, will educate residents about winter fire safety through the Keep Warm, Keep Safe public awareness campaign. Components will include radio and television ads, English/Spanish ads in public transit systems, multi-language flyers and brochures, and a grassroots outreach effort led by local fire departments.

The Keep Warm, Keep Safe campaign was launched in 2008 after a spike in heating-related fire deaths in 2007. Home heating fires in Massachusetts have decreased nearly 46% from 2008-2015 (2,495 to 1,455).

For more information on winter heating and fire safety, visit