Prepare Your Home For Winter With These Heating Safety Tips
The weather continues to grow colder and that means people continue to reach for their heating equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment caused 21% of home fire deaths in 2010. No matter how you stay warm this winter, we want you to be safe, so we compiled a list of safety tips for each heating source.
Your central heating system is the single most important factor in staying comfortable this winter. To ensure safe operation of your furnace all winter long, we recommend the following actions:
- Get an annual furnace inspection to ensure your furnace is operating safely.
- Make sure your furnace is properly vented.
- Clear the area around the furnace of combustible materials.
- If you have a gas furnace or other gas appliance, install carbon monoxide detectors.
Wood stoves cause over 9,000 residential fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. To prevent this, make sure your wood stove is safe by observing the following:
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood. This produces more heat and prevents creosote buildup, which can damage your flue.
- Flue vents should be inspected and cleaned at least annually
- Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from the stove.
- Do not put trash or artificial logs in the stove.
- Install working fire/smoke alarms and test them regularly.
A fireplace can offer both relaxation and warmth. Many families associate the winter and holiday seasons with gatherings around the fireplace. Here are a few ways you can keep your fireplace safe:
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Watch children and pets around the fireplace.
- Use the metal mesh screen to keep embers from coming into your home.
- Never burn cardboard or other garbage in the fireplace.
- Do not use flammable liquids to start fires.
- Make sure there are no branches hanging above your chimney.
Electric Space Heater
The elements of some electric space heaters get hot enough to ignite combustible materials if care is not taken. When using your electric space heater this winter, remember these tips:
- Buy and use only space heaters evaluated by a national-recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Unplug the space heater when not in use.
- Do not use the space heater to dry clothes and do not store items on top of them.
- Keep combustibles at least three feet away from space heaters.
- Avoid using electric space heaters where they may come in contact with water.
Before purchasing a kerosene heater, check with the local fire department to make sure that they are allowed in residential applications in your area. You may also want to check with you homeowner’s insurance company to see if damage caused by kerosene heaters is covered in your policy. If you have a kerosene heater, or are purchasing one, take heed of the following.
- Purchase and use only kerosene heaters with an UL evaluation.
- Use only in well-ventilated areas.
- Do not put other fuel sources in a kerosene heater.
- Refuel the heater outside of the house.
As the weather grows colder and you turn more and more to heat sources to keep yourself warm, remember these tips to keep your family and your home safe this winter.