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Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services                                                            




DATE: January 6, 2014                                                RELEASE # 1401-1


With the cold snap moving in on South Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel reminds residents to play it safe when it comes to keeping warm.


In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported home structure fires, 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 injuries and $893 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). From 2007 – 2011, space heaters played a role in one-third (33%) of home heating fires. Space heating poses a much higher risk of fire, death, injury and loss than central heating. “Using candles to keep warm, or using an oven or stove burners to heat your house is a fire hazard,” Sheriff Israel said.  According to the Home Safety Council, each year in the United States 240,000 home fires occur as 67 percent of American households use gas, wood, kerosene, coal or other fuels as their major heating source. Burning these fuels releases potentially fatal carbon monoxide (CO) fumes. Every year, exposure to dangerous levels of CO results in more than 100,000 medical visits and 300 home poisoning deaths in the country.


The Broward Sheriff Fire Marshal and NFPA offers the following tips to stay safe during the cold spell:


Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm on every level of your home and near sleeping areas and keep them in good working order and test them monthly. Carbon monoxide, which is colorless and odorless, is a silent killer.


NEVER use a gas or charcoal barbecue grill inside your home or any enclosed area.


Establish a fire escape plan (and practice it) with at least two ways out of every room.


Only use electric space heaters approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriter’s Laboratories.

Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn - including furniture, people, pets and window treatments.


Don't hide cords from portable heaters under rugs. Avoid the use of extension cords with space heaters. Use only heavy-duty, approved extension cords if you must. ALWAYS turn off space/portable heaters before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Supervise children and pets at all times when a portable space heater is in use

Never use space heaters to dry clothing or blankets.

When you turn on the heat in your home for the first time, expect a slight burning smell from the accumulation of dust that burns off the coils. This smell should dissipate within a few minutes. If it does not, or if you notice smoke or flames, call 9-1-1 as there may be an electrical problem.

This report by:

Mike Jachles/PIO

01/06/14 1930


Smoke alarms save lives

Posted At: 01/06/2014 07:39 PM

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