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Floridians Urged to Practice Fire Safety during Cold Snap


TALLAHASSEE – As the state braces for a near-record cold snap expected to begin tonight and continue through the weekend, Floridians are urged to keep safety in mind when cranking up the fireplace or space heater.

Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, said it's also important to make sure smoke detectors and flashlights are working and to have an escape plan in place.

An arctic blast forecast to move into Florida today is expected to cause hard freezes in north Florida and low wind chills throughout the state through Saturday.

Gallagher offers the following tips to help residents weather the cold safely:

· Make sure smoke detectors are working. Install a smoke detector if you do not have one.

· Be sure to have a flashlight available to use instead of candles in case power is knocked out.

· Do not use extension cords with electric space heaters. Plug heaters directly into a wall outlet to avoid overheating.

· Never leave electric space heaters unattended.

· Keep space heaters and other heat sources at least three feet away from furniture, walls and drapes.

· Do not use space heaters in bedrooms or sleeping areas. Sleepers could become too warm and toss the bed covers on top of the space heater.

· Prior to igniting a fireplace, be sure the chimney flue is open to allow carbon monoxide gas to escape.

· Do not burn anything in the fireplace other than firewood.

· If your natural gas is shut off or the pilot light needs to be re-lit, contact your local gas company. Do not attempt to turn it on yourself.

· Have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.

For more fire safety tips, visit and follow the prompts for the State Fire Marshal's Office.