Yes, it is getting warmer, but winter is not over yet. And one way I can tell is that there are still plenty of news reports coming in every day, with stories of residential fires caused by portable heating appliances. In a post earlier this winter, I recounted a tragic story of three children killed in a house fire that was apparently caused by a portable heater. It seems there are numerous incidents like this every year, and they are totally avoidable.
Cold Temperatures Lead to Risky Behavior
Winter is the time when many people use portable heaters to supplement their regular home heating. In a winter such as the one we’ve been having, it’s even worse: there are areas of the US that haven’t seem temps this low in decades. No wonder homeowners will do just about anything to stay warm… and that’s where the trouble can start.
Statistics Show the Danger
Recent national statistics show that space heaters continue to ignite deadly fires. While only 33% of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 81% of home heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
With many parts of the country continuing to be in the deep freeze, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued a renewed warning about the fire dangers associated with heating equipment, saying the improper use of heating equipment can be incredibly dangerous and their misuse is a leading cause of home fire deaths.
More Sobering Stats
According to NFPA, half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Half of the home heating fire deaths resulted from fires that started when something that could burn was too close to the heating equipment.
Let’s face it: these types of heating devices aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, their use is expected to increase as weather patterns become less predictable. It just makes sense that we should understand how to use portable heaters – and even fireplaces – safely. We’ll all be better off.
Top Home Fire Safety Tips
NFPA offers several tips you can follow to ensure a safe and cozy winter this year:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or other space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
Frontpoint also recommends that every home alarm system be monitored for smoke and heat. It shouldn’t cost you any more per month, and you’ll get additional discounts on hour home insurance. And in addition to at least one monitored wireless smoke & heat sensor for every home, we’re also big proponents of the monitored carbon monoxide sensor mentioned above. As you might expect, Frontpoint provides both of these devices at affordable prices, with no additional monthly monitoring charge.
As we look for warmer temps around the corner, let’s stay warm – and stay safe!