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The original item was published from 11/2/2015 10:35:53 AM to 2/2/2016 12:00:01 AM.

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Fire Department

Posted on: November 2, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Winter Heating Safety


Temperatures are starting to drop, as we approach the winter season. It is very important that your heating equipment be inspected and serviced if needed. Preventive maintenance is essential to ensure your heating equipment is operating safely. November is a great time!

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths, with almost half of these fires occurring in the months of December, January and February. Common household mistakes contribute to the majority of these fires.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) outlines precautionary steps to greatly reduce the chances of becoming a fire casualty.

Wood Stoves
Wood stoves cause over 4,000 residential fires every year. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions. Look for solid construction, such as plate steel or cast iron metal. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs, or trash. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Be sure to keep combustible objects at least three feet away from your wood stove.

Electric Space Heaters
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Heaters are not dryers or tables; don’t dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Kerosene Heaters
Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare-up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. Never overfill any portable heater. Use the kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room.

Fireplaces regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. They need to be cleaned out frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires. Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes near any open flame. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

The USFA issued the following safety tips to help prevent fires caused by home heating devices.
Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

• Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
• Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
• Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
• Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
• Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
• Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
Safely Burn Fuels
• Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
• Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
• Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
• Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
• When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.

Protect the Outside of Your Home
• Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
• Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
• Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
• Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

Protect the Inside of Your Home
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
• Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
• Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.

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