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Winter Fire Safety Tips
Posted Date:
The Cheltenham Fire Department and the U.S. Fire Administration offer these safety tips to help prevent fires this holiday season and throughout the winter.
• Have fireplaces and chimneys professionally inspected and cleaned before each winter season. Always use a sturdy fireplace screen. Fireplaces are made to burn clean, dry wood. Never burn ignitable liquids. Avoid burning paper and pine boughs, which may cause embers that could rise up the chimney and ignite the roof. Also, do not burn pressure-treated wood, any painted wood or plywood as they can contain harmful chemicals.
• Place all types of portable space heaters at least 36 inches away from anything ignitable, including curtains, bedding and furniture. Do not leave children or pets unattended with space heaters, and do not leave a room or go to sleep with the unit operating. Any portable heater used should be clearly marked UL listed. Note: Township ordinances prohibit kerosene heaters in apartment buildings and ban the use of propane heaters in any type of building in the Township. Store kerosene outside, away from heat, in clearly marked, approved containers.
• Purchase only products that have been tested and approved by independent testing laboratories.
• Have working smoke detectors installed on every level of the home and in every bedroom, and test their operation monthly.
• Keep a UL listed, multi-purpose fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it.
• Practice escape plans so that all family members are familiar with them in the event of an emergency.

Holiday Lighting

• Indoor lights should be inspected for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking before putting them up. If damaged, discard them.
• Turn off or unplug all decorative lighting before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Lights used outdoors should be approved for outdoor use. All lights and any electrical cords and appliances, whether indoor or outdoor, should be UL listed.
• Run all outdoor cords above ground, keeping them out of puddles and snow.
• Do not overload electrical outlets. Don’t link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it’s safe. Use surge protection power strips rather than relying on many extension cords to connect holiday lights, whether indoors or outdoors. Connect light strands to an extension cord before plugging the cord into an outlet.

Holiday Decorations

• When selecting a live Christmas tree, choose one with green needles that should not break. The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
• Don’t have live Christmas trees up for longer than two weeks. Place trees away from heat sources including fire places and heating vents. Heat can dry trees, making them more flammable. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. Discard dry trees promptly.
• Cheltenham Township will collect used Christmas trees at the curb from properties west of Old York Road on Fridays, January 12 and February 2 and east of it on Fridays, January 26 and February 9, 2018. All decorations must first be removed.
• Ensure Christmas tree and other holiday decorations don’t block exits.
• Use only nonflammable or flame-retardant decorations, and keep them away from sources of heat and from any source of flame (stoves, heaters, fireplaces, candles, etc.).
• Avoid using lit candles; consider using battery-operated, flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles. If you do use candles, make sure they are in stable holders and located where they cannot be easily knocked down. Do not place candles on top of or next to paper, books, curtains or any other easily ignitable articles. Never leave candles burning where children or pets are not supervised. Never leave the house or go to sleep with candles burning.

Smoke Detectors
• Consider giving and installing the gifts that continue to save lives – smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke detectors are recommended on every level of the home and in every bedroom.

For more fire safety information, visit the National Fire Protection Association website or contact the Cheltenham Township Fire Marshal at 215-887-6200, ext. 235.


Cheltenham Township   ~   8230 Old York Road   ~   Elkins Park, PA 19027   ~   Hours: M-F, 8AM-4:30PM
Phone: 215-887-1000   ~   Fax: 215-887-1561
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