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Alternative Heating Safety 

When power outages are a possibility, it pays to be prepared.Loss of electricity can mean a loss of heat, but when you use alternative heat sources there are some things to keep in mind.The top causes of fires in Maine are heating related, and when the power goes out sometimes Mainers improvise, but if alternatives are not used properly they can be deadly.Chief David LaFountain, Waterville Fire Department: “They don’t call it the silent killer for no reason.”Emergency Management director Robert McAleer: “it’s odorless, colorless.” The silent killer: carbon monoxide.It’s why you should never use grills or camp stoves indoors. And when you use an emergency heating source, like a kerosene heater or generator be sure to ventilate properly.Although warning labels are clear.Director McAleer: “We see that almost every winter where a generator is not pulled out far enough away from the house or even outside folks will stick it in the garage open some doors and think they’re fine.” But gases can still seep into a home.To demonstrate how quick the fumes can become harmful we fired up a small generator outside the Waterville Fire Station next to the entrance.High levels of carbon monoxide were detected in a matter of minutes.Another source of concern are candles.Chief LaFountain: “People will light them up to see. Or they’ll have the decorative scented candles. If it gets down to the last 1/2 inch stop using it because we’ve had those crack the glass and had wax come out and catch things on fire.”