Heating season is in full swing and with that comes an elevated risk for home heating related fires. Annually U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 52,050 fires involving heating equipment. Space heaters are most often involved in home heating fires followed by solid-fuel heating equipment like fireplaces. The Plainfield Fire Protection District has the following tips to help you stay safe and warm this winter.
The primary cause of space heater involved fires are from the space heater being located too close to anything that can burn such as furniture, clothing, mattresses and bedding. Always keep 3 feet of clear space around space heaters. Turn space heaters off before leaving the room or going to bed. Never plug a space heater into an extension cord. Fuel burning space heaters need to cool before refueling and only refueled outside. Make sure there is adequate ventilation and fresh air from an open window when using a fuel burning space heater. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper use when using any type of space heater.
The main cause of fireplace related fires is from a failure to clean the fireplace and chimney. Chimneys need to be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional. Only burn dry, well-seasoned wood and use artificial logs according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Newspaper or kindling wood should only be used to start a fire; never use flammable liquids to start a fire. Use a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room and keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from your fireplace. Allow ashes to cool before disposal and put them in a metal container with a lid that is kept a safe distance from your home or other structures. Always supervise children and pets around open flames.
Have heating equipment inspected and maintained annually by a qualified professional for safety. Make sure heating equipment in your home is listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Keep a three foot zone clear of anything that can burn around all heating equipment. Never use your oven to heat your home.
Your home should have carbon monoxide alarms in a central location outside of bedrooms and on every level of your home. Test your carbon monoxide alarms monthly and replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off make sure everyone moves outdoors to fresh air and call 9-1-1. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is created when fuels such as wood, natural gas and oil burn incompletely. Home heating equipment and appliances that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
In addition to carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms should be located on every level of your home, in a central location outside of bedrooms and also inside of bedrooms. Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace them every ten years or sooner if they fail to test correctly. With all alarms
it is best to have interconnected alarms so if one goes off they all sound an alarm.
For more information on home heating safety please visit the National Fire Protection Association’s heating safety webpage at: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Teaching-tools/Community-tool-kits/Keeping-Your-Community-Safe-and-Warm. You may also visit the Plainfield Fire Protection District’s website at www.PlainfieldFPD.org or call us at 815-436-5335.