Heating Season and Fires

Every year as temperatures dip, the number of fire responses increase. Heating appliances, while making winter more pleasant, present hazards that should not be take lightly. Caring for your heating appliances will help to ensure safe and effective operations. To keep you family safe during the coming months we recommend the following safety tips:

Gas Appliances:

  • Never store rags, mops, paper and other combustible near any gas appliance.
  • Never store or use flammable products in the same room or near any gas or heat-producing appliance. Flammable products include gasoline, spray paints, solvents, insecticide, adhesive, foggers, varnish and other pressurized containers. All gas appliances have a main burner flame and most also have a pilot flame. Flammable vapors can be ignited by these flames.
  • Keep flammable products far from gas appliances in approved, tightly closed containers and out of the reach of children.
  • Provide proper venting systems for all gas appliances - overhead vent pipes should extend at least three feet above the roof.

Forced Air Furnace:

  • It's important to maintain your furnace for safety and operating efficiency.
  • Keep furnace registers free of lint and dust.
  • Keep filters clean - a clogged filter can reduce heater efficiency.
  • Check your filter monthly by holding it up to a light. Replace or clean clogged filters.
  • When installing filters, be sure to reinstall the filter access panel/door correctly. This will protect against possible injury or Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. Refer to your owner's manual for correct panel position and required maintenance.

Electric Space Heaters:

  • Avoid lint build-up by vacuuming regularly.
  • Keep children away from the grill, as it gets very hot.
  • Avoid fires - don't place rugs, furniture or combustible items near the unit or block their air flow.

Propane/Gas/Kerosene Space Heaters:

WARNING: Most unvented fuel burning heaters are unsafe.
  • Poor operation can result in an accumulation of hazardous fumes (CO).
  • Unless a propane/gas/kerosene space heater has enough air from an outside vent or an opening window, all of the oxygen in a room can be used up, resulting in illness or death.
  • The flames in these heaters are not fully covered, and can cause fires.

Fireplace Safety:

  • Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean.
  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home and garage.
  • Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
  • Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
  • Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

Water Heaters:

  • Do not install a water heater where flammable products will be stored or used.
  • Water heaters installed in garages must be elevated a minimum of 18 inches above the floor.
  • Lower water heater temperature to prevent scalding accidents. Water temperatures above 125 degrees F can cause severe burns or even death.
  • Read your instruction manual before setting the temperature. It should contain information about temperature-limiting valves.
  • Feel the water temperature before bathing or showering.

Protect Your Home!

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.