The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many to seek alternative sources for home heating. The use of wood burning stoves, fireplaces and space heaters is growing. These supplemental heat measures do provide a great deal of benefit, but they are also a major contributing factor in residential fires. However, by following safety precautions, many of these fires can be prevented.
Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut-off, in case the heater is tipped over. Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the manufacturer for that device. Avoid overfueling, and do not fill the heater while it is operating or is hot to the touch. Keep children and pets away from the heater. Never use fuel burning appliances without proper ventilation, as the fuels used produce deadly fumes. Use a carbon monoxide detector in conjunction with the heater.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
Be sure the stove or fireplace is properly installed, and checked for cleanliness each time before using. Have the flue and the chimney inspected annually to ensure proper ventilation. Do not use flammable liquids or other accelerants to start the fire, and use only proper materials (charcoal can be deadly if used indoors). Keep a protective screen in front of the fire to prevent sparks from escaping. Be certain the flames are completely extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. Do not discard hot ashes inside or near the home’s foundation.
Electrical Appliances and Extension Cords
Some fires are caused by electrical system failures and defects, while many more are the result of misuse and poor maintenance. Read manufacturer's instructions for proper use and routinely check for damaged units or frayed cords.
During a typical year, home problems account for 67,800 fires, nearly 500 deaths and more than $850 million in property losses across the United States. Be sure that every level of your home has a working smoke detector and check this on a regular basis (batteries should be tested at least every six months). For additional fire safety tips, please contact your local fire district.