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Winter Safety Series — Heating Safety

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Home covered in snow

During the Winter months, as increasingly colder temperatures keep us indoors and have us turning up the heat, the risk for home fires and other hazards naturally goes up as well. But staying warm and being inside for longer amounts of time shouldn’t mean risking the health and safety of ourselves and our families. To help make you aware of these risks and how to prevent them in your home, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration have teamed up for the “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” campaign. We’re going to start our Winter Safety Series on the blog with heating safety. Below, find some statistics from NFPA on heating fires and tips you can follow to prevent them:

Based on 2012-2016 annual averages:

  • Most home heating fire deaths (86%) involved stationary or portable space heaters.

  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (27%) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.

  • The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (54%) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.

  • Nearly half (48%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.

To prevent heating fires:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet (one metre) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

  • Have a three-foot (one metre) “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.

  • 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 alarms at least once a month.

By following these tips, your risk of a heating fire in your home should significantly decrease. We hope you and your loved ones have a warm and safe Winter and we’ll be back next month with more of our Winter Safety Series.

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