Cold Weather Heating Safety
When the temperature drops, city residents will sometimes use portable heating devices to help keep their homes warm. Safety measures should always be taken to ensure a safe, warm home through the upcoming winter. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January, and February, and trails only cooking equipment in home fires year
Residents who utilize space heaters or other heating devices should remember to place them is such a position that there is at least 3 feet of clear space between the heaters and any combustibles. Space heaters are temporary heating devices that should only be used for a limited time each day and should never be connected to an outlet with an extension cord. When not in use, be sure to unplug the unit and let it cool down if you will be storing the unit. Never use heaters to dry clothing or other combustibles. Electric heaters with frayed or damaged cords should not be used. Young children should be kept away from any appliance that has hot surfaces which could cause burns.
Before using the fireplace for the first time in a season, make sure that the flue is open. You can check it by looking up the chimney to see if you are able to see daylight. If there are any obstructions, remove them. If not removed, these obstructions could cause smoke and carbon monoxide to back up into your home. Chimneys and vents should be inspected and cleaned at least annually. Have chimneys inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Creosote is an unavoidable product of wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Creosote builds up in connectors and chimney flues and can cause a chimney fire. Don't burn newspapers or other trash in a fireplace and never burn pressure treated wood. It is highly recommended to have a good screen in place that covers the entire opening of the fireplace to prevent embers from escaping. Never leave a fireplace unattended.
Coal and Wood Burning Stoves
Use coal only if specifically approved by the stove manufacturer. Gasoline or other flammable liquids should never be used to start a wood fire since it might explode or flare up. In all cases, follow manufacturer's instructions concerning installation and operation. Be sure to keep the ash levels low in wood, coal, and pellet stoves. Ash buildup effects the ventilation of the stove causing incomplete combustion which in the case of the wood stove contributes to creosote buildup. Always place the ashes in an approved metal container which should never be set on a combustible surface such as a deck or wooden stairs.
By planning ahead, you can do a lot to prevent a fire. But, once a fire starts in your home, there are only three things to do: get everyone out of the house, close the door behind you, then, call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's home. Don't go back into a burning building, no matter what. If you thinks someone is trapped inside, tell the firefighters when they arrive.