The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and man made logs.
All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are, however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
It is important that you have your furnace inspected to insure that it is in good working condition.
Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may indicate a leak. Deadly carbon monoxide may be escaping into your home.
Change furnace filters on a regular basis.
Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.
Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly. Woodstoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces, and proper and protection.
Wood stoves be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning Charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken thefire or use more than one log at time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane, forexample) can produce deadly fumes.
Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Using the wrong fuel will cause a heater malfunction.
Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors).
Keep young children away from space heaters-especially when they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing than can be easily ignited.
If you are using an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit.
Extension cords are for TEMPORARY USE ONLY. When not in use UNPLUG it.
Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
Be sure to allow at least 36” between the space heater and combustible materials.
Make sure you turn the space heater off before you go to bed.
Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
Make sure you change the battery in your smoke detectors at least twice a year.
The life expectancy of a smoke alarm is approximately ten years.
Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
Be extra careful on ice and snow by keeping walkways clear.