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Despite the weather getting colder, many people may want to keep gathering outdoors to keep their guests safer from Covid-19 exposure, and may even be considering it for their upcoming holiday celebrations.

But to enjoy being outside on patios, in backyards or inside garages with open doors, people will likely be using a source of warmth. So to prevent accidents and injuries, the Fire Department is offering vital safety tips surrounding the use of fire pits and outdoor heaters.

Stand up gas heaters
• Stand-up gas heaters should be secured to the ground and should not be utilized during heavy wind, as they could tip over.
• Residents should ensure that gas heaters meant for outdoor use are kept at least three feet away from any object or structure, and should not place gas heaters under tents or in their garages.

“It can cause a carbon monoxide buildup and that can get really dangerous,” said Jennifer Wenzel, a fire iInspector from the Fire Marshal’s Bureau. “It can also catch the nylon and the tent could catch on fire.”

Electric heaters
• Electric heaters may be OK for use inside garages, but must be three feet away from any object or structure.
• However, the Fire Marshal’s Bureau recommends that individuals instead set up a proper heating unit meant for indoor use.
In addition, electric heaters should not be used outdoors in bad weather, such as rainy or snowy days, as this can lead to electrical fires.
Fire pits
• Recreational fire pits can only be a maximum of three feet wide and two feet tall, and must be within 25 feet of any structure. They must also have a cage over the top and sides.
• In addition, individuals should not use any flammable liquids to feed the fire, as these may release vapors that could catch on fire and spiral out of control.
• Residents must be sure to extinguish the fire pit once they are finished using it, or if any objectionable smoke or ashes are procured.
• Portable outdoor fireplaces may be used in rear yards only, and must be 15 feet away from any structure or object.
• Residents may not burn construction materials, trash, leaves or yard waste.
• When using recreational fire pits, residents should keep either a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby. Residents should be aware to not rely on their outdoor hoses, as the water inside may be frozen since they are likely being used less during the winter.

Accidents can happen, and the Fire Marshal’s Bureau recommends having a plan just to be safe: “Think about what you would do if a leaf or some brush nearby catches on fire,” Wenzel said.

Following these vital tips will ensure that individuals stay safe while still having fun and staying warm.

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