NFPA urges caution when using home heating equipment
The National Fire Protection Association urges the public to be extra careful when heating their homes during the winter months.
According to the NFPA, home heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States and the third leading cause of home fire deaths and direct property damage.
According to the NFPA’s latest US Home Structure Fires report, an average of 45,800 home heating fires occurred each year between 2015 and 2019, resulting in approximately 480 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries and $1 billion in direct property damage. .
“During the colder months of the year, home heating equipment kicks into high gear,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA. “Understanding when and where home heating fires occur is essential, so people can take the necessary steps to minimize the associated risks and heat their homes safely.”
Space heaters are the most common culprit in home heating equipment fires, accounting for more than two in five fires, and the vast majority of related deaths (81%) and injuries (80%).
“Heaters can be effective tools for heating smaller areas, but they should be used with care and caution,” Carli said.
Failure to clean equipment was the leading cause of home heating equipment fires. Fires in which a heat source was too close to combustible materials caused the greatest number of civilian deaths, injuries, and direct property damage. Half of home heating fire deaths have been caused by placing equipment too close to things that can burn.
The NFPA offers these tips and guidelines for safely heating your home during the winter months:
not Furnaces and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
not Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet (one meter) from any heating equipment, including furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters.
not Always use the correct type of fuel, as specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
not Create a 3-foot (one meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and heaters.
not Make sure space heaters are in good working order and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn off space heaters when you leave the bedroom or go to bed.
not Fire pits should have a solid screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, which should be placed outside at least 10 feet from your home.
not All fuel burning equipment must be vented to the outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
not If you smell gas in your gas stove, do not light the appliance. Leave home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
not Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are located throughout the house; test them monthly to make sure they are working properly.
The NFPA offers home heating safety tips, information and resources to help better educate the public on how to safely heat their homes. Additionally, the NFPA’s “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” campaign with the United States Fire Administration aims to promote a host of winter safety issues, including home heating.