Winter / Heating

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. During December, January, and February it is the leading cause.
Most heating equipment fires start as a result of misuse or improper maintenance. When purchasing new heating equipment, be sure to select products that have been tested and approved by an independent testing laboratory. Install and maintain heating equipment correctly, and be sure it complies with local fire building codes.

Portable & Other Space Heaters
Portable and space heaters can be either electric or fueled by gas, liquid fuel (kerosene), or solid fuel (wood or coal). All types must be placed at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, such as wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.

Don’t leave children or pets unattended with space heaters, and be sure everyone understands that drying clothing or placing combustibles over heaters is a fire hazard. If you have an electric space heater, check each season for fraying or splitting wires and overheating. Have all problems repaired by a professional before operating the space heater.

Portable Kerosene Heaters
If you have a liquid fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel, because the wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment’s design limits and cause a fire. When refueling, always turn off the heater and let it cool down before adding fuel. Wipe up any spills promptly.

If you are considering a kerosene heater, be sure to check with your local fire department before purchasing to find out if it is legal in your community. Store the kerosene away from heat or open flame in a container approved by the local fire department, and be sure it is clearly marked with the fuel name. Portable LP gas (Propane) Heaters with self-contained fuel supplies (cabinet heaters) are prohibited for home use by NFPA fire safety standards.

Fireplaces
Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not properly cleaned. Always protect your home and your family by using a sturdy screen when burning fires.

Remember to burn only wood. Never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select 1 listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes.

Wood Stoves
Be sure your wood or coal stove bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper installation, use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned periodically.

Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only wood, and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and hot embers. Contact the Fire Marshal’s office at 918-341-7054 before having your wood stove installed.