Home Heating Safety

HEATING FIRES ARE THE SECOND LEADING CAUSE of all residential fires (behind cooking fires).  Heating equipment, especially portable and space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves, require careful use and proper maintenance. Here's a few tips to help families prevent fire and burn-related injuries during the winter months.

Portable Space Heaters

  • Make sure your space heaters and portable heaters have an emergency tip-over shut off in case they tip over.
  • Make sure your heater has been tested for safety. Look on the bottom for a label such as ETL, UL or CSA.
  • Space heaters need plenty of space around them.  Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn - including furniture, people, pets and curtains.
  • There should always be an adult in the room when a space heater is on. Turn off space heaters before leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Supervise children and pets at all times when a portable space heater is in use.
  • Never refill a fuel-powered space heater while it is operating or still hot. Refuel outside, away from the house.
  • Never use space heaters to dry clothing or blankets.
  • Never use the range or oven to heat your home.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, away from combustible surfaces, have the proper floor support, and adequate ventilation.
  • Have a professional chimney sweep inspect chimneys every year. They will fix any cracks, blockages and leaks and clean out any build-up in the chimney that could start a fire.
  • Open flues before starting a fire.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use sturdy screens or glass doors to keep embers inside fireplaces.
  • Keep young children away from working wood stoves and heaters to avoid contact burn injuries.
  • Burn only seasoned hardwood like oak, ash or maple.
  • Never burn paper, trash, cardboard, charcoal or debris in a fireplace or wood stove.
  • If using manufactured fire logs, only burn one at a time and follow all of the manufactures directions.
  • Do not use manufactured fire logs as a starter log or with other wood or fuels.
  • Place hot ashes in a separate metal container outside your home, away from decks, landscape materials and other combustibles, and soak them with water. Ashes and embers can stay hot for days and ignite combustibles.
  • Store firewood outside and at least 30' from your home.
  • Keep tree branches and leaves at least 15' away from the chimney top.
  • Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.
  • Keep furniture and other combustables at least 36” away from the hearth.

Be Prepared

No matter how careful you are with home heating, you and your family should be prepared in case fire strikes.

  - Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

  - Make and practice a home escape plan (PDF) .

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