According to the U.S. Fire Administration, home fires are most common during winter months. And the National Fire Protection Association says that home heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. But you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for safety. Here are some simple tips for keeping your family safe and warm.
Home Heating Safety Tips for All Homeowners
Keep a distance
Anything that is flammable should be at least three feet from a heat source. Even if the source is “covered” (like your furnace), it poses a greater risk of fire when objects are crowding the unit. You should also try to keep children away from heat sources, including any play areas or toys that may encroach on the unit.
Turn everything off
Going to bed? Make sure the fireplace is off and cool. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, wait until ashes are cool before disposing of them in a metal container. Leaving the room? Turn off the space heater completely. If you’re lucky, some space heaters even come with an automatic shut off if it falls over, which is recommended for an extra layer of safety.
Use proper ventilation
Whether you heat your home with gas, oil, or wood, it’s essential to have proper ventilation that allows air to escape outside the home. These fuels create harmful gases, like carbon monoxide, which are odorless and are potentially fatal.
Only heat with qualified equipment
Your oven cannot, and should not, heat your home. Don’t do it. Leaving an open oven in your home is a hazard to pets and children and can allow carbon monoxide to spread. It’s also an inefficient way to heat your home, as it is a relatively small heat source with no air distribution ability.
Ensure your furnace, space heater, and other heating equipment are of good quality and installed by a qualified professional. Also, make sure to always use the required fuel for your heating equipment, especially if it is portable.
Hire a Professional
Heating equipment should always be installed and repaired by a reputable HVAC technician, like the experts at Mac's Plumbing, Heating & Air. A professional can install the equipment efficiently and safely.
Additionally, a professional can also clean and inspect your heating equipment regularly. This will help extend the lifespan of your system and catch any performance issues early. Also, keep in mind: Your chimney should be cleaned by a professional if used, even semi-frequently (soot and grime can build up).
There’s always room for an accident to happen — even when you take all the necessary precautions. Every family should have a fire safety plan for an emergency; this looks different for each home but should include clear instructions on how to exit and call 911 safely.
You can also be proactive by installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. The NFPA recommends having a smoke alarm in each sleeping area (and directly outside each sleeping area) and on each home level.
Also, be sure to keep up with battery and unit replacements, as indicated by the particular detector. Furthermore, a carbon monoxide detector is also recommended for every home, with at least one detector on every level.
Be Careful with Gas
Many homes across the country use natural gas as their heat source. Gas is cost-effective and efficient but also poses some risks. If you have a gas fireplace or furnace, there should not be any smell from the unit. If you smell gas, do not light anything, exit the home immediately, and call 911.