During the winter months, the risk of household fires increases as families may use multiple sources to heat their homes. The majority of fires during colder months are caused by cooking. Other fire hazards are space heaters, wood burning stoves, and other supplemental sources of heat. While the biggest culprit for these fires is a fireplace or chimney, fires caused by space heaters or other portable heating devices can happen quicker and spread faster, making them responsible of nearly 75% of all heating fire deaths. Most of these fires can be avoided by making sure heating sources are being used and maintained properly. Here are some tips to help you ensure that your family is safe from fire during the winter months.
Keep all flammable materials, to include cloth, bedding, rugs and paper products at least 3 feet away from all heating sources. Children and pets should never be left alone with heating sources. Make sure to follow all manufacturer directions for cleaning and maintenance of any heating source. Never use your stovetop or oven to heat your home. Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
Always put out your fire before going to bed or leaving your home. Make sure that no flammables are within 3 feet of your wood stove. Never leave a wood stove unattended or leave children alone in a room with a wood stove. Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected once a year. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire in a wood stove, and never burn paper or charcoal in your wood stove.
Make sure all embers of a fire are put out before going to bed, place remaining ashes in a metal container and put it outside, at least 3 feet away from your home. Never leave a fireplace unattended or leave children alone in a room with a fireplace. Always have a metal or glass fire screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers from escaping or logs from rolling out onto the floor. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire in a fireplace, and never burn paper or charcoal in your fireplace. Have your fireplace professionally cleaned and inspected once a year.
Space and Kerosene Heaters
If you have another option, avoid using space or kerosene heaters. But if you must use them make sure they are on a flat, hard surface (not carpet) and are at least 3 feet away from flammable materials such as walls, bedding or clothing. Look for heaters that will automatically turn off if they fall over. Never leave them on while sleeping or when you leave your house. Heaters should always be plugged directly into an outlet, never use an extension cord or power strip.
Make sure that no flammables are within 3 feet of your furnace. Have your furnace inspected once a year.