December, January and February are prime time for home heating equipment fires—in fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than half of home heating equipment fires annually are reported in that timeframe. These fires can be caused by heating apparatus like stationary and portable space heaters, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.
Proper installation can help reduce the risk of fire. When installing wood-burning stoves or gas heaters, for instance, follow the manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional perform the installation.
Simple safety practices can also help mitigate risk. Use your oven to cook food only; never use it to heat your home. When leaving the room (or going to bed), turn portable heaters off. Place a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from flying into the room, and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing them in a metal container, and ensure they are kept a safe distance from the home. Hire a qualified professional to clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys every year.
These months also come with an increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Fuel-burning equipment, including vehicles and generators running in an attached garage, can produce dangerous levels of CO and should be vented to the outside to keep from building up in the home.
Installing and maintaining CO alarms can lessen the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Test smoke alarms and CO alarms monthly. If you smell gas in your gas heater or other appliance, do not light it. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company for assistance.
If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
Published with permission from RISMedia.