Fireplaces and Wood Stoves The major risks associated with using fireplaces and wood stoves are improper installation, operation and maintenance. Follow these guidelines to heat safely when using yours.
Many fires are caused by a creosote build-up that coats the inside of the chimney flue. You should have a chimney professional check your chimney each year and clean and repair as needed. Use only seasoned hardwoods such as oak, locust and maple.
Use metal screens or heat tempered glass doors to contain hot ashes and prevent sparks from burning rugs, carpets and other items.
Keep combustible items at least three (3) feet away from fireplaces and wood stoves.
Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them and then put ashes into a metal container and put outside away from structures and flammable items. Ashes can smolder for several days and have caused numerous fires when put in combustible containers and then placed on decks or porches.
In addition, all fuel burning appliances produce carbon monoxide (CO). CO detectors continuously monitor the air for the presence of the poisonous gas and should be installed on every level of the home.
Electric Space Heaters Portable space heaters start fires when placed too close to furniture, curtains or other items that can ignite easily. Space heaters should never be used to provide heat during the night when people are sleeping. Here are some additional tips to prevent fires when using electric space heaters:
Purchase heaters that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriter's Laboratory (UL).
Keep space heaters at least three (3) feet away from combustible items.
Never leave children unattended around a space heater.
Plug directly into the wall outlet and do not use extension cords.
Turn heater off and unplug when going to bed or leaving the home.
Maintain and inspect the heater and cord on a regular basis.
Have the furnace cleaned once a year before the heating season begins to be sure adequate air intake and that the exhaust system is working properly.
Furnaces Most fires involving the central heating system occur when the unit is not well maintained and when nearby flammable liquids ignite. Gasoline vapors can travel to the pilot light and quickly catch fire or cause an explosion. Fire prevention tips when using oil or gas furnaces:
Keep combustibles three (3) feet away from furnace.
Store flammable liquids such as gasoline, outside and never near a furnace.