Firefighters asking citizens to be attentive to heating sources as colder weather sets in

The arrival of colder temperatures to the Midlands will have many people reaching for their space heaters and thermostats looking to get some warmth.

That being said, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to remind everyone to exercise CAREFUL attention both before you crank the heat on and while any heating equipment is running in your home or workplace.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have milder weather stay with us in the month of October but now we’re approaching the point where many residents are going to need some form of heat to stay comfortable,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “We want everyone to have peace of mind while using their home heaters, space heaters or anything else to keep warm. To get that peace of mind PLEASE make sure to assess your heating equipment before you use it.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association each year heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires in the U.S.

The NFPA says from 2012 to 2016 local fire department responded to an estimated average of 52,050 fires involving heating equipment. These fires resulted in 490 civilian deaths, 1400 civilian injuries and $1 billion in direct property damages.

Here’s a few tips to heat your home safely this winter, courtesy of NFPA:

  • Keep anything that can burn (including carpet) at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater. Only use space heaters on hard surfaces e.g.: hardwood, tile, etc.
  • Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Never use a portable generator inside your home. Place it outside and at least 10 feet away from the building.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.