Home Heating Safety - Central County Fire & Rescue

Home Heating Safety

When it’s cold outside people work to keep it warm inside, which can present a number of fire dangers.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) home heating equipment was involved in more than 58,000 home fires in 2009. This resulted in 1,520 people being injured and $1.1 billion in property damage.

These fires are easily preventable by following a few simple tips from the NFPA:

  • Keep or maintain a three-foot clearance between all heating equipment and anything that can burn.
  • Do not use your oven to heat your home.
  • Inspect and maintain heating equipment regularly for safety.
  • Portable space heaters should be turned off every time you leave the room and before going to bed.
    • When buying a new space heater, make sure it has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
    • Be sure to have fixed space heaters installed by a qualified technician, according to manufacturer’s instructions or applicable codes, or make sure a qualified technician checks to see that the unit has been properly installed.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
  • Allow fireplace and wood/pellet/coal stove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on each level of the home.
    • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not burn candles near anything that could catch fire.

Home Heating Facts From NFPA

  • Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (32%) of home heating fires and four out of five (79%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (26%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (53%) of home heating fire deaths.

Additional NFPA Home Heating Safety Tips

  • Make sure your choice of heating equipment is permitted by law in your community. For example, kerosene heaters are not allowed in all communities.
  • Make sure your heating equipment has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
    •  If possible, have a qualified professional install the equipment.
    •  Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside.
  • Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow around the outlet to the outside.
  • Supervise children when open fires and space heaters are being used
  • Install a non-combustible screen around the appliance to prevent burns which are even more common than fire injuries.
Portable Space Heaters
  • Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
  • Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
Fuel Burning Space Heaters
  • Always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.
  • When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside.
  • When using the heater, open a window to ensure adequate venting.
Wood-/Pellet-/Coal-burning Stoves and Fireplaces
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Use artificial logs according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Use only newspaper and kindling wood to start a fire.
  • Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline to start a fire