Beating the cold, safely

As the temperature outside drops, Wilton residents take to the indoors to keep safe and warm. What they may not realize is that turning up the heat can increase the risk of home heating fires. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA), an estimated 33,000 fires and 180 deaths occur each year from home heating equipment.

“While these numbers are frightening, nearly all of these fires are preventable,” said Fire Marshal David Kohn. “We can prevent home heating fires in Wilton by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly.”

The Wilton Fire Department recommends some simple home heating safety tips so residents can help keep our community safe and warm this winter.

• Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment. Make sure the heater is placed on a flat, level floor and not on a rug or carpet.

• Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

• Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.

• Inspect for cracked, frayed or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.

• Never use gasoline in a kerosene heater. Even a small amount can be dangerous.

• Have your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if necessary.

• Use a sturdy fireplace screen.

• Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and leave it open until the ashes have cooled. This will prevent the buildup of poisonous gases in the home.

• Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Dispose of ashes outdoors in a metal container with a lid. Hot embers can remain long after a fire is out.

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home — when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

• Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area.

• Never use an oven to heat your home.

Information: or call 203-834-6246.