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Authorities Stress Importance Of Working Smoke Alarms And Proper Use Of Space Heaters
Updated November 25, 2014 7:14 AM | Filed under: Fire
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(UNDATED) - Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson expressed the importance of working smoke alarms and proper use of space heaters and other forms of alternative heating after several fire fatalities.

Working smoke alarms are important to have year round, but especially in the winter months when alternative heating sources, such as space heaters and fireplaces, are used. Space heaters account for one-third of home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Proper use of heating sources and working smoke alarms can be the difference between life and death, according to Greeson.

"There have been more than 70 fire-related deaths in Indiana so far this year," Greeson said. "Last year we had more than 100 fire-related deaths, and in a lot of these cases there was not a working smoke alarm in the home. Smoke alarms are proven to save lives."

Investigators from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security have responded to more than 300 fires this year. In more than half of those investigations, the location did not have smoke alarms, or had non-working smoke alarms.

Space heaters should always be kept away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding, and furniture. There should be at least a three-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times. Avoid using candles or appliances, such as a stove or oven, to heat the home.

Carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels in a matter of minutes, so if residents are relying on using an appliance like a stove for heating, use blankets instead or stay with a friend for a while.

Fireplaces should be regularly cleaned and inspected by a certified professional, such as a chimney sweep. Gas fireplaces should have properly working ventilation with a functioning carbon monoxide detector nearby.

"Creosote deposits build up quickly in chimneys and can easily catch fire," said Greeson. "Keep anything flammable away from fireplaces, and use only paper or kindling to start a fire. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case the fire grows too large or out of control."

Fires should always be extinguished and space heaters unplugged before going to bed or leaving the home for any period of time. Do not leave space heaters on in unoccupied rooms.

In addition to safe heating, do not overload electrical outlets. Power cords, especially those on Christmas trees and decorative lighting, should be plugged into outlets with sufficient capacity, and never into extension cords.

For more information on safe alternative heating and holiday safety, visit

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