NFPA Offers Home Heating Equipment Safety Tips

Half of all home heating equipment fires are reported during December, January, and February, and more than half of the home heating fire deaths come from fires that began when a flammable item was too close to the heating equipment.

NFPA offered a winter safety primer on Jan. 8 in which it noted how frequently U.S. fire departments are called out to respond to non-fire carbon monoxide incidents during the winter months: 80,100 times, or roughly nine times per hour, in 2010 alone. With that in mind, the advice for homeowners about fire dangers associated with heating equipment such as space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces are most timely because misuse of them is a leading cause of U.S. home fire deaths.

Half of all home heating equipment fires are reported during December, January, and February, and more than half of the home heating fire deaths come from fires that began when a flammable item was too close to the heating equipment.

NFPA attributed the 96 percent increase from 40,900 incidents reported in 2003 to 80,100 in 2010 to increased use of CO detectors. The association's advice for heating equipment is:

  • Use your oven to cook food only. Never use it to heat your home.
  • Hire a qualified professional to clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys every year.
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Place a sturdy screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing them in a metal container and ensure they are kept a safe distance from the home.
  • f you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow buildup.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms monthly.

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