We all want to stay warm in the winter. We turn on our heat, crank up the fireplace and snuggle under a warm blanket. But according to the National Fire Protection Association, heating is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. Here are five home heating safety tips to keep you and your family safe:
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
We all can smell smoke if a fire starts. But carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that can be produced by the incomplete combustion of heating oil.
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home. Don’t forget the basement as that is where most heating systems reside. Install these devices either on the ceiling or high up on a wall. Depending on the size of your home, you may want to put them inside every bedroom. Install CO2 detectors in rooms with gas fireplaces.
Larger homes benefit from an interconnected smoke alarm system. When one device is triggered, all devices throughout the house go off. This prevents anyone from not hearing the alarm and all can exit the home promptly.
Smoke and CO2 detectors have expiration dates. Replace them all within 10 years of the manufactured by date printed on the back of the devices. And test the batteries regularly for both devices. Most will begin chirping every 30 seconds once it has expired.
Monitor space heaters
Space heaters are the major factors in 74 percent of fire-related deaths. Therefore it’s important to monitor your space heaters if you need to use them.
Always plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Use of extension cords may lead to circuit overload and cause a fire.
Be sure your space heater has an emergency cut-off so that it shuts off automatically if tipped over or accidentally knocked down. Without this safety feature, if it falls on carpet it could easily ignite a fire.
Never leave space heaters unattended. Shut them off when you leave the room. Place your heater on a flat, level, non-flammable surface such as ceramic tile rather than on a carpet.
Maintain your fireplace or wood burning stove
If you have a working fireplace or wood burning stove, it is a good idea to have the chimney cleaned of soot and creosote every year. Make sure your chimney doesn’t have any cracks. There are many dangers of a cracked chimneys including potential to start a fire and potentially send toxic fumes into your home.
Use a fire screen to shield the room from popping embers. This prevents sparks or flaming debris from landing on carpet. Not only will that ruin the carpet, it can also ignite and start a fire. Keep children and pets away from the screen as they can burn if touched.
Inspect your heating system
Regardless of whether your heating system is oil or gas, you should have your system inspected and maintained annually. Contact your HVAC company to inspect your furnace and clean all the ducts. They will run through a maintenance checklist to ensure your system operates safely and efficiently. They will check all parts for wear and tear and to ensure there is no blockage.
Use your common sense
Open flames whether they are candles, the gas stovetop or a fireplace come with a risk.
- Keep flammable materials away from open flames.
- Put candles in a holder that protects children and pets from the flame.
- Never use your stovetop for heat. The open gas flames can start a fire quickly.
- Leave your home immediately if you suspect (and smell) a gas leak. Call the gas company from elsewhere.
Keeping your home safe and warm is not difficult. With a few simple home heating safety tips and precautions, you can prevent most heating fires from happening and ensure you and your family are cozy throughout the winter.