Most of the country experienced extreme cold temperatures this past week. Homeowners were looking for any way to heat their home and prevent their pipes from bursting! The cold weather can obviously be hazardous for those that venture out unprepared. However, the inside of your home can be just as unsafe if you are not following proper fire safety rules when heating your home. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, half of home heating fires are reported during December, January and February. Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of fire deaths. If you follow a few simple fire safety tips, you and your family can keep safe and warm during the cold winter months.
1. Keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away from heating equipment such as fireplaces, furnaces, wood stoves, and portable space heaters.
2. For safety purposes, also create a 3 foot “kid’s safety zone” around fires and space heaters.
3. Never use an oven to heat your home. It is a safety hazard and a possible source of deadly fumes.
4. Have heating equipment such as kerosene heaters or chimneys cleaned and inspected on a yearly basis.
5. For kerosene or oil heaters, never fill the heater when it is in operation or when it is hot. Avoid overfilling the heaters.
6. Follow manufacturer instructions for the correct fuel for your portable heaters.
7. Do not use electric space heaters in the bathroom, or anywhere they may come in contact with water.
8. Turn portable space heaters off when leaving the room or when going to bed.
9. Make sure that fireplaces have a strong and secure screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Dispose of ashes in a metal container, once they are cooled.
10. Test your smoke alarms on a monthly basis.
11. Plug in the portable space heaters directly into a wall, not an extension cord.
12. Use only dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace. Do not use an excessive amount of paper to build a fire.
National Fire Protection Association: http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers
United State Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/holiday-seasonal/winter.shtm