As the cold weather quickly approaches, I can’t help but think about all the potential fire risks that increase during this season. Heating, cooking, holiday decorations as well as candles all contribute to an increased risk of fires during the winter months. But according to UFSA, a significant portion of fires during winter are caused by heating equipment. Fires involving heating equipment typically start in late fall through mid-winter during the coldest months. Since heating equipment runs a lot longer during the coldest months, there is more opportunity for that equipment to cause a fire. However, almost all heating fire risks can be easily avoided by taking a few simple precautions. What can you do to help prevent heating fires during the winter months?
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home!
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms monthly!
For more information on the risks of fires during the winter months and safety tips, check out NFPA’s “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires”.