Ridgefield fire marshal's office gives holiday safety tips (COLUMN)

With the winter months rapidly approaching, the Ridgefield Fire Marshal’s office and the Ridgefield Fire Department would like to remind everyone to be safe this holiday season as we enjoy our time with friends and family. Every year, there are a multitude of circumstances that can occur that result in loss of life and or property. We would like to point out some tips to help keep everyone safe.

Make sure that you have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home. Be sure they are in working order and that the batteries are changed twice a year. A good reminder to change out batteries is to change them every time you move your clocks during daylight saving time.

Heating devices are a big player regarding accidental fires. Make sure your furnaces are serviced every year. Wood, coal or pellet stoves also need to be cleaned and serviced yearly. The chimneys used by these devices need to be checked and cleaned yearly, too. By-products that build up in your chimney can readily cause fires.

When removing ashes from these types of heating appliances, please remember to place them into a metal container with a lid. Remove it from the home to the outside as soon as you are done cleaning. Pour water in with the ashes and do not leave it in the home at any point. Remember hot coals hidden in ashes are insulated and can stay hot for up to four days. One should never store ashes inside the home. One last thing, make sure high winds cannot blow the ashes out of the container when placed outside.

If you use room heating devices, please place them away from combustibles, like chairs, sofas, Christmas trees, etc.

Regarding sources of lighting, they should be in good condition. Exposed wires, coiled wires, wires that are covered by other items can result in fire. Extension cords and lights should be approved and listed by a recognized testing laboratory. When leaving the home or going to bed, you should pull extension cords out of the outlet. They are only for temporary use. Lights should be turned off at these times too.

Many people like to use candles around this time of year. Never leave them unattended! If you leave or retire for the night, extinguish them. It takes less than a minute for a fire to start.

If your family experiences an emergency within your home, it is best to have a plan of action established before the emergency. Make an exit plan. Know two ways out of your home if possible. Establish a predetermined meeting place outside your home. Once out, stay out. Never go back into a structure that is on fire.

Most importantly, should you need to call the fire department for any type of an emergency, please make sure your house is numbered and obvious to the members responding to your emergency. Try to have your driveways and sidewalks shoveled as soon as possible to allow us to gain access to your home without undue hindrance. Long access ways to homes and poorly marked houses add unnecessary time to responders rendering services to those in need.

Please enjoy this winter and holiday season and remember to be safe. If you have any questions, you can reach out to anyone of us for more information at any time by calling 203-431-2729 or 203-431-2725.