Fire safety tips when heating your home
April 30, 2009 · Updated 4:11 PM
Winter safety tips from Fire Administration
Higher costs of heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves and space heaters is growing and fireplaces are burning wood and man-made logs. All of these methods of heating may be acceptable, but they are a major contributing factor in residential fires. The good news is, many of those fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help everyone maintain a fire-safe home this winter.
Be sure the heater is in good working condition.
Never use fuel-burning appliances without proper room ventilation.
Use only the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer.
Keep kerosene or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
Never fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Use caution with cold fuel, as it may expand as the tank warms up. Refueling should be done outside the home.
Keep young children safely away form space heaters.
Wood Stoves and fireplaces
Wood stoves and fireplaces are a common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard. To use them safely:
Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces, with proper floor support and protection.
Wood stoves should be of quality construction and design and UL listed.
Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary.
Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening.
The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces.
Keep flammable materials away from the mantel.
Before going to bed, be sure the fireplace fire is out. Never close a damper with hot ashes in the fireplace.
If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package.
It's important to have a furnace inspected to ensure it is in good working condition.
Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shut-offs are in proper working condition.
Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists.
Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Other Fire Safety Tips
Never discard hot ashes in or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and away from the house.
If using an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit.
Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device (such as a hand held dryer) for thawing.
If windows are used as emergency exits, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
Be sure every level of the home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.