Heating Unit Safety

In the winter months, using heating units increases. Heating units include:

  • Boilers
  • Fireplaces
  • Furnaces
  • Portable Space Heaters
  • Wood Stove

Half of all heating fires occur in December, January, and February. If we can stay alert and are cautious of using these types of units and fireplaces, we can ensure that our home stays safe. Follow these tips:

  • Make sure anything that can burn is at least 3 feet away from heating units.
  • Make sure all children and pets are at least 3 feet away from heating units.
  • Drying mittens or other combustibles over a space or portable heater is a fire danger.
  • Make sure all cords on electric heaters are in good shape and checked periodically for any frays or breaks in the insulation surrounding the wires.
  • Check the cord and outlet occasionally for overheating; if it feels hot, turn it off.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.
  • Be sure to have qualified professionals install any stationary heating units; like a boiler or furnace.
  • Have your stationary units checked once or twice a year.
  • Always turn off heaters when going to sleep or leaving the house.
  • Make sure to use the right kind of fuel for the right kind of unit.
  • Burn only clean, well-seasoned, dry firewood in the fireplace.
  • Your fireplace should have a screen in front of it to prevent sparks. Ashes need to be cooled before placing them in the appropriate container.
  • Chimneys need to be inspected by a professional sweep prior to the start of each heating season and periodically throughout the year.
    • Have chimneys cleaned if there is a buildup of creosote. Creosote is a chemical substance that forms when wood burns and builds upon the chimney wall. It is highly combustible.
  • Any heating appliance with an open flame needs to be vented to the outside to eliminate the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • When using these types of heating devices, manufacturers’ instructions, and recommendations should be followed.
    • Units must be cooled before refueling; this should take place outside of the structure. Fuel must be stored in a container approved by the fire department and clearly marked with the fuel name.

Videos from FEMA & the NFPA on Heating Safely in Your Home