December, January and February are the deadliest months for home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). And, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire deaths. That’s why it’s important for you and your loved ones to take extra precautions during the winter.
Thinking of buying a space heater? The NFPA recommends (and our association insists) that you make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions or have it professionally installed. If you have an electric-powered space heater, plug it into an outlet with sufficient capacity. Never use an extension cord. The association does not allow liquid-fueled space heaters.
Turn off space heaters whenever the room is unoccupied or when manufacturer’s instructions say they should be turned off. Portable space heaters are easy to knock over in the dark. Turn them off when you go to bed, or at least make sure they’re placed in lighted areas or out of high-traffic areas.
If you use a fireplace or wood stove, use only dry, seasoned wood to avoid the build-up of creosote, an oily deposit that easily catches fire and accounts for most chimney fires and the largest share of home-heating fires. Use only paper or kindling wood, not a flammable liquid, to start the fire. Do not use artificial logs in wood stoves.
Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. After the ashes are cool, dispose of them in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from your home.
Make sure fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, that the venting is kept clear and unobstructed, and that the exit point is properly sealed around the vent. This is to make sure deadly carbon monoxide does not build up in the home
Other reminders from the National Fire Protection Association include:
-Don’t use your oven to heat your home.
-Inspect all heating equipment annually, and clean as necessary.
-Test smoke alarms monthly; install a carbon monoxide alarm outside each sleeping area.
For more information, visit www.nfpa.org.