Home Heating Safety
 
By Coordinator/Public Information Officer William Smith
November 29, 2021
 

Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2014-2018. These fires resulted in annual losses of 500 deaths, 1,350 injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. Over half of the home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. A vast majority of home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters. Nearly half of all home heating equipment fires occurred in December, January, and February.

With a few simple safety tips and precautions, you can prevent most heating fires from happening.

• Keep anything that can burn at least 3ft from heating equipment (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, portable space heater).
• Have a 3ft “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.
• Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
• Remember to 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 and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms at least once a month.