Winter Safety Tips from the Fire Marshal

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November 07, 2018
Kittitas County, WA - 11/06/2018 - Winter and Holiday Safety Tips from the Fire Marshal:
  1. Home Heating
  2. Candle Safety
  3. Christmas Trees

Home Heating

The temperature is beginning drop outside and Kittitas County families spend more time indoors to keep warm.  What you may not realize is that turning up the heat can increase the risk of home heating fires.

Fires from home heating can be reduced by taking some simple precautions and using equipment properly.

The Fire Marshal recommends some simple home heating safety tips that can help keep your family and community safe and warm this winter.
  • Space heaters need just that, space.  Keep all objects that can burn, at least 3 feet away from the heater.  This includes furniture, paper, and bedding. 
  • Turn portable heaters off when you go to sleep or leave the room. 
  • Plug power cords only into electrical outlets rated at the capacity of what the heater draws. NEVER use an extension cord. 
  • Inspect for damaged, cracked, or frayed plugs and loose connections. Replace before using. 
  • Have your chimney inspected each year and swept if necessary. 
  • Use a sturdy fire place screen. 
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing and dispose in a metal container, not a plastic bucket. 
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home.  Some smoke alarms can be inter-connected so that they all alert if one activates.  Test each monthly. 
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms outside each sleeping are and near gas appliances.   
  • Never use an oven or barbeque to heat your home.

Candle Safety

Having candles in your home or as part of your emergency preparedness kit is a wise decision so that you have a light source if the power goes out.  Some people enjoy burning candles on a regular basis for multiple reasons, including scented candles for the aroma.

I would like share some information from the National Fire Protection Association’s “Candle With Care” program:
  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid using in areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn.
  • Use candle holders on a sturdy and uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep hair and loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t’ burn a candle all the way down – put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting available and ready to use.
  • Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high and out of reach of children or in a locked cabinet. 
Some facts about candles: 
  • December is the peak time of the year for home candle fires.
  • Roughly one-third of home candle fires start in the bedroom.
  • More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.

Christmas tree Safety

One out of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, they are likely to be serious. A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every four of the fires.

Here are some Christmas tree tips:
  • Pick a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off with touched. 
Placing the tree:
  • Before placing the tree in a tree stand, cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Keep the tree at least 3 feet away from any heat sources, including space heaters, radiators, candles, heat vents, or fireplaces.
  • Be sure that tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Check the water level in the tree stand daily, adding water as needed. 
  • Only use lights that have a label from a recognized testing laboratory.  Some lights are intended only for outdoor or indoor use.
  • Discard any lights that have broken or worn cords.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions to see if “daisy chaining” or connecting multiple strings is allowed.
  • Fix any loose bulbs.
  • Never use candles to decorate the tree.
  • Turn off the Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed. 
After the holidays:
  • Dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry.  Dried-out trees are a potential fuel source for fire and should not be left in the home, garage, or against the house outside. 
  • After the holidays check with your community to determine if there is a recycling program available or a drop-off location to recycle trees. 
  • Remove outdoor Christmas lights and decorations and bring them inside to prevent hazards and lengthen the life of them. 

2018 Fire Safety.pdf
Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at
For more information:
Patrick Nicholson, Fire Marshal (509) 962-7000