With the Midlands bracing for another round of winter weather this week, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to remind area residents to practice safety while heating their homes. Some heating sources like space heaters and fireplaces require CONSTANT supervision as using them carries a greater risk for fire danger.
Here are some heating safety guidelines to keep in mind courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association:
- 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 such as hardwood, tile floors, 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. Also consider purchasing space heaters with a ‘kill switch’ that will turn the unit off if it tips over.
- Power your space heater by plugging the device DIRECTLY into a wall outlet! DO NOT use extension cords or power strips to power the space heater!
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters. Refuel kerosene space heaters outside!
- Heating pads and electric blankets also pose a fire risk – especially if more than 10 years old. Don’t place anything on top of either one while in use – this includes other blankets or pets. Never fold electric blankets or use while sleeping.
- Make sure your 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.