Winter Heating Safety Tips
Published Friday, January 29, 2021
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires in the United States. Overall, heating equipment is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths. Fortunately, heating-related fires can be prevented if action is taken on time.
Professional heating maintenance should be performed on an annual basis. It is also important to keep flammable objects away from heating equipment. There should always be a minimum 3-foot clearance around all your heating equipment.
But it is not just home fires that you have to worry about. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), over 150 people in the U.S. die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, striking victims caught off guard or in their sleep. An additional 5,000 or so suffer injuries. Known as the silent killer, CO poisoning is a serious problem that can result from any fuel-burning process.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to winter heating safety:
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional; change furnace filters frequently.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturers’ instructions.
• Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages or obstructions.
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before being placed into a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
• Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Test smoke and CO alarms at least once a month and be familiar with the sounds they make.
• Never use an oven or range to heat your home.
• Remember to turn off portable or space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on each floor of your home and within 15 feet of each sleeping area.
• CO detectors have a limited life span, check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on replacement.
Stay warm! Stay Safe.
National Fire Protection Association
Office of the Illinois Fire Marshall