Fire Safety Awareness

Winter Heating Safety Tips

There is nothing like having a warm and cozy place to come home to during the winter when the temperatures drop to near freezing. It’s enough to make us never want to leave the house again until spring! Unfortunately, though our fireplaces, space heaters and furnaces can provide us with wonderful warmth and comfort, they can all pose a few very dangerous hazards to our homes and our well-being if not used properly.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths and at least half of these fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. Now that December is right around the corner, we want to take the time to help everyone make sure their homes are safeguarded through the winter with these easy heating safety tips.

 

Furnaces

  • Furnaces should be inspected by qualified professionals annually. Other that the furnace itself, flue pipes, pipe seams and chimneys should also be checked. This is a low cost service that could prevent any potentially expensive repairs later on, but if any repairs are necessary, they should also be left to an expert.
  •  Be sure that controls are in proper working condition, especially the emergency shutoff. This function could make all the difference in a dangerous situation.
  •  Always make sure that combustible materials like trash, laundry or furniture are kept a safe distance from heat from the furnace.

 

Electrical Space Heaters

  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, but if you must use an extension cord, make sure it is the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. You should also always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions in regards to the use of extension cords.
  •  Always remember to turn portable space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  •  Do not use electrical space heaters in bathrooms, or anywhere else where they may come into contact with water.
  •  Keep electrical space heaters out of areas where young children and pets are frequently located.

 

Kerosene Heaters

  • Fuel burning heaters can produce dangerous fumes and should never be used in an area without plenty of ventilation. For this reason, electrical space heaters are more commonly acceptable for indoor use.
  •  Make sure your kerosene heater has an emergency shut off feature that works properly.
  • Only use the exact fuel that is recommended for your kerosene heater and no other. Introducing the wrong type of fuel to a kerosene heater can have a disastrous outcome.
  •  Fueling your kerosene heater should be done outside of the home and you should be very careful not to overfill your unit and use room temperature fuel. Cold fuel can expand when heating.
  •  Store your kerosene and all other flammable liquids in approved metal containers, in a well-ventilated storage areas, outside of your home.

 

Wood Burning Stoves and Fireplaces

  • Make sure your woodstove is UL listed, is made of good quality, solid construction and has been installed properly, by a qualified professional.
  •  A woodstove should be burned until hot twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes in order reduce creosote buildup.
  •  When lighting your woodstove or fireplace, be careful not to use too much paper or kindling and build up too big of a fire. It is possible to ignite creosote that has built up in your chimney.
  •  Never use flammable liquids to start or accelerate an indoor fire. Also never use charcoal, which can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  •  Make sure your fireplace has a screen that stops sparks from flying into the room or anything or anyone from going into the flames. Glass or metal screens are recommended.
  •  If you decide to use synthetic logs. Be sure to follow the instruction on the packaging and never break it apart in an attempt to quicken the fire or make it burn longer.
  •  Remove all flammable materials or decorations from your fireplace mantel before starting a fire.
  •  Get your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if it’s necessary. This is especially important if your fireplace or stove has not been used for a long time or if you’ve moved into a new home.
  •  Always make sure your fire is completely burned out before going to sleep.

 

General Safety Tips

  • Keep anything that could possibly catch fire at least three feet away from any piece of heating equipment in your home. A three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters is an excellent idea.
  • Never discard hot ashes from many fire apparatus inside or near your home. Dispose of them in a metal container outside and a safe distance away.
  • Never use an oven range or regular stove as a heating device. Not only is this a serious fire hazard but it can also cause toxic fumes to leak into your home.
  •  If there is a fire hydrant near your home you should clear a space around it whenever it snows in order to assist the fire department, if they should ever need to respond to a home fire.

Follow these important, and possibly life-saving, safety tips and rest assured knowing that your winter will be spent in a home that is both warm, and safe!

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