State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan issued fire safety
warnings due to the approaching storm which is likely to
cause power outages. “Start your storm preparations by
making sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are
working and stock up on battery-operated candles and
flashlights in case the power goes out,” he said.
This is a good time to charge up cell phones,
laptops and other electronics. Many people may lose the
ability to make emergency calls when cell phone
batteries and the battery-backup for fiber optic
telephone/cable/Internet services become depleted.
Prevent Fires from Alternative Lighting,
Heating and Cooking
“It can be difficult and frustrating to be
without light, heat or the ability to cook for an
extended period of time, but it is critical to stay safe
and not make a bad situation worse,” said Coan. “After
storms, we often see many fires from woodstoves being
overloaded, improper disposal of ashes, candles, and
improper re-fueling of generators.”
Wood, Coal and Pellet Stoves
“Prevent serious fires from the improper
disposal of ashes from fireplaces, wood and pellet
stoves,” said Coan. “A single ember can remain hot for
days, so put ashes in a metal container with a lid away
from the house, the garage, the deck,” he added. Already
this heating season, many fires started with ashes put
into plastic bags, cardboard boxes, and plastic trash
bins, in the garage, under the deck or even in the
“Don’t overload your woodstove as they are not
designed to replace central heating systems. An
overloaded woodstove can easily start a chimney fire by
taking advantage of creosote build-up or minor cracks in
the flue, or causing a breakdown in the chimney liner,”
said Coan. Heating appliances are the leading cause of
carbon monoxide in the home and the risk increases when
they are working harder. For more information go to
Use Flashlights and Battery-Operated Candles
Use flashlights and battery-operated candles
for safety. If you must use flame candles, remember to
burn them inside a one-foot circle of safety free of
anything that can burn. Place them on a non-combustible
surface or in the sink; blow them out when you leave the
room or go to bed; and use jar candles or place a globe
over stick candles. Keep pets and children away from
Don’t use your oven for heat and don’t bring a
hibachi or gas grill inside to cook, doing so can cause
carbon monoxide poisoning,” he said. “Use propane or
charcoal grills outdoors, at least ten feet away from
the house to prevent fires and carbon monoxide
poisoning,” he added. “Using them inside the garage,
even with the door open poses a serious risk of CO
poisoning,” Coan said.
“During the February 2013 blizzard, fire
departments responded to a record number of CO calls,
many from home generator use,” said Coan.
- Place the generator outdoors facing away from
doors, windows and vents. Never use a generator
inside – even the garage.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or
use a heavy-duty, outdoor rated extension cord.
- Let the generator cool before refueling.
- Have an electrician install an appropriate
transfer switch; never plug a generator directly
into a wall outlet to avoid “backfeeding” which can
electrocute utility workers. (It might be too late
for this today!)
- Transport gasoline safely in an approved
container in the trunk of your car (max. 7 gallons).
- Store gasoline in a shed or detached garage away
from the house; never store gasoline in the home or
an attached garage.
Clear Snow from Furnace and Dryer Vents
Keep outside furnace, hot water and dryer vents
clear of drifting snow to prevent flue gases from
backing up into the home and creating a carbon monoxide
Prevent Freezing Pipes
“Let hot and cold water faucets drip a trickle
to prevent pipes from freezing, and open cupboards under
sinks to let heat circulate around the pipes,” said Coan.
Be a Good Neighbor
Check on elderly neighbors and see if they need
extra supplies before the storm.
For more information on safety go to