We all do our best to stay warm and cozy during winter, whether that means getting a crackling fire going or cranking up a space heater. But keeping warm has its risks—more than 45,000 home fires happen every year in the U.S. according to FEMA, and heating is the second leading cause of home fires after cooking. Home heating safety can save lives, and we are here to help.
As temperatures drop in winter, home fires become much more common, with about 21% of annual fires taking place in January alone. That makes this a good time to brush up on your home heating safety.
General Home Heating Safety
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from all heating devices. Make sure heaters and other devices are nowhere near drapes, curtains, carpets, clothing, paper materials or anything else that may be flammable.
- Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to make sure they are functional and have fresh batteries.
- Never use your oven or cooking range to heat your home.
- Maintain a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around all heat sources, including fireplaces, portable heaters, furnaces and candles.
- All stationary heating equipment should be installed by a trained professional.
- Do not light any heating appliance if you smell gas in your home. If you smell gas, exit your home immediately and contact your utility company or local fire department.
Space Heater Safety
- Always turn portable space heaters off before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Do not plug more than one heat-producing appliance into a single wall outlet at the same time.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before using any space heater.
- Place space heaters away from high-traffic areas like halls and doorways, where they may become a tripping hazard.
- For fuel-burning space heaters, never use any fuel other than the correct fuel specified by the manufacturer.
- Make sure space heaters are situated on a level, stable surface. Never place a space heater on a table or other piece of furniture, or directly in carpeting, which can be a fire hazard.
- Have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned and inspected before using it each year.
- Don’t use your fireplace unless you have a sturdy screen to keep sparks from escaping into the room. Screens should also be sturdy enough to stop rolling logs.
- Remove ashes into a sturdy metal container only, never plastic. Only remove ashes when they are completely cool, and store them in a safe outdoor location well away from your house.
- Do not store flammable materials, including firewood, in the area around your fireplace or wood stove.
You will also find this helpful: Protect Your Home from Winter Threats