Tips to avoid injury or death during power outages

Marylanders can avoid injury or death during power outages by following the following safety tips from the Maryland State Police:

  • Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles.  Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand at all times.   If you prefer the look of candles, consider flameless battery operated candles that offer the flickering light without the potential fire hazard. 
  • If using candles, make sure they are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and the holders should be made of material that will not burn.  
  • Keep candles away from anything combustible, such as; clothing, books, papers, curtains, decorations or anything else that can burn.  
  • Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room or before going to sleep. 
  • Never use candles, matches or lighters if medical oxygen therapy is used in the home. 
  • Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure they are clean and placed on a flat level surface.  Use only "listed" by an approved testing laboratory equipment and follow manufacturer's instructions.
  • Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters.  The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire.
  • If you use kerosene fuel fired heaters, use only "K-1" kerosene fuel.  Never fill the unit inside, remove it to the exterior after it has cooled before refueling.
  • Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation.
  • Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.), at least three feet from all heat sources.    
  • Fuel burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide.  Install and maintain CO2 alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide.
  • Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods.  Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.
  • If you are depending on portable generators for electricity during power outages, use extreme caution when refueling.  Fuel splashed on a hot muffler could ignite, causing severe burns and serious injuries.
  • Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is running.  Always allow the unit to cool before attempting to refuel.  
  • Operate generators outside of the home and outside of garages.  Carbon monoxide gas produced by operating generators is poisonous and can quickly cause severe injury or death.
  • Ensure placement of the generator does not allow carbon monoxide to enter the home through windows, doors or other openings.  
  • As always--make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your homes.  They are some of the most effective fire and life saving tools for preventing injury and death from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.