Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. Two out of three reported home heating fires and associated deaths and injuries involved portable and fixed space heaters and related equipment, such as fireplaces and chimneys.
Portable models heat up rapidly, and like baseboard heaters, they can easily ignite any flammable item left nearby.
When shopping for a portable heater, choose a model with 1) temperature control, 2) an automatic shot-off devise, and 3) a seal of approval from an independent testing laboratory, indicating that it has met basic safety standards.
Checklist for Portable Heaters
- Keep portable heaters three foot away from anything that can burn
- Always place portable heaters on flat surfaces
- Always turn the heater off when you leave the room and before you go to sleep
- Avoid using household extension cords with portable heaters. If you must use an extension cord, make certain that it is a heavy-duty cord.
Baseboard heaters are very efficient, but they can be a serious fire hazard if used carelessly. Common sense can prevent a baseboard heater fire. Any time a flammable object comes in contact with a heater, a fire could result.
Checklist for Baseboard Heaters
- Check baseboard heaters often and remove objects that have fallen on top or near the heater
- Keep all furniture and curtains a safe distance from your heaters. Never block the flow of heat
- Never permit electrical cords to drape across heaters
- Always hire an experienced electrician to do any necessary repair work on your baseboard heater.
Fireplaces & Wood Stoves
Fireplaces can offer a beautiful source of heat when they are cared for properly. If you use a fireplace to heat your home, have your chimney inspected by a professional and cleaned before each heating season. Creosote can build up along the inside of the chimney and pose a fire hazard.
Checklist for Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
- Always use a fire screen to contain the sparks from entering your home
- Make sure your fireplace is cleaned once a year to remove creosote
- Burn only seasoned wood. Never burn rubbish.
- Make sure flammable items are a safe distance away
- Never leave fires unattended.
- Wait until the ashes are cool to remove them from the fireplace and place in a metal non-combustible container