The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities has caused many community members to search for alternate sources of home heating. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shutoff in case the heater is tipped over.
Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal or propane, for example) produces deadly fumes.
Use only the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Never introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
Keep kerosene and other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
Never fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Use caution with cold fuel for it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors).
Keep young children safely away from space heaters, especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
Wood Stoves & Fireplaces
Be sure the stove or fireplace is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36") from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
Don't use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
Keep flammable materials away from your mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Other Fire Safety Tips
Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame - the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.
If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.
Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
Never use a range or an oven as a supplementary heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.