Heating Sources Safety

Be Winter Ready

The United States Fire Administration estimates that 905 people die in winter home fires each year. Direct property losses due to winter home fires reach over $2 billion a year, with heating being the second-leading cause of all residential building fires following cooking. By following a few safety tips, citizens can put a freeze on winter fires.

Wood stoves:

Wood stoves are a common or secondary heating source for homes. Carefully follow the manufacturer's installation and maintenance instructions. Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design and should be approved by a recognized testing lab such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) safety listing. The stove should have a clearance of three feet from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and function.

Electric space heaters:

Only buy heaters with the UL safety listing. Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism and safety switch, enabling it to switch off if the heater falls over. Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. Space heaters need available room around them; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when it is not in use.

Kerosene heaters:

Buy only UL-approved heaters and check with your local fire department on the legality of using a kerosene heater in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare up easily. Only use the fuel recommended by the heater’s manufacturer. Never introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type of fuel. Never overfill any portable heater.

Wood-burning fireplaces:

Fireplaces regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. Fireplaces need to be cleaned out frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires. Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper, or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Source: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/winter.html