Due to the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities lots of Americans have searched for alternative sources for home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is increasing. Space heaters are coming out of storage or are being purchased at a fast pace. Fireplaces are burning wood and man-made logs. All of these types of heating may be pleasing to the homeowner, but it is a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you preserve the fire safety in your home during winter season.



- Examine your heater to make sure it is in good working condition. Check the exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off just in case it is tipped over.

- Do not use fuel burning appliances without adequate room venting. Remember that burning fuel like, kerosene, coal or propane, produces lethal fumes.

- Use ONLY the fuel that is suggested by the heater manufacturer. NEVER use a fuel that is not intended for that heater.

- Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers. Also you must make sure that they are kept in well-ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.

- DO NOT fill the heater while it is in use or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, do not over fill. When using cold fuel be cautious due to the fact that it may expand in the tank as it warms up.

- Always refuel your heater outside of the home (or outdoors).

- Keep young children safely away from space heaters. Particularly when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose-fitting clothing that can be easily ignited.

- When you are using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, make sure you have proper ventilation in order to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.


Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a particularly common heat source in homes. Careful consideration for safety can reduce their fire hazard. To use them safely:

- Make sure your stove or fireplace is installed properly. Remember, wood stoves must have sufficient clearance (36") from flammable surfaces. There must also be proper floor support and protection.

- Wood stoves must be of good quality, UL listed, made of solid construction and design.

- Inspect the chimney annually. Have it cleaned if necessary. If the chimney has not been used for some time, it is advised to have it cleaned.

- Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.

- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening. This will prevent embers or sparks from coming out, unnecessary material from going in.

- The stove should be bured hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes in order to decrease the amount of creosote buildup.

- Do not use excessive amounts of paper to make roaring fires in your fireplace. It is possible to set fire to creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.

- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.

- Keep flammable materials away from your mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.

- Before you go to sleep, always make sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.

- If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never use more than one log at a time or break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire. Synthetic logs often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.


It's important that you have your furnace inspected to insure that it is in good working condition.

- Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in correct working condition.

- Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.

- Examine the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.

- Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.

- Is the chimney solid? Look for cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

- Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.


- Do not throw away hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them outside in a metal container. Keep the container away from the house.

- Never use a range or an oven as an additional heating devise. It is not just a safety hazard, but it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.

- If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords that have the required rating to carry the amp load.

- Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.

- Are the water pipes frozen? If they are, do not try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame. It can cause the pipe to conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Only use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.

- If you use the windows for emergency exits in your home, you must practice using them. That will help you and your family to be ready in the event of a home fire. Be sure that your windows easy to open. Home escape ladders are recommended.

- If there is a fire hydrant near your home, try to keep it clear of snow. This will help the fire department if it is ever needed.

Closing Remarks

- Be sure that your smoke alarms in each area of the home that it is needed. Inspect the smoke alarms every month, in order to make sure they are clean and working correctly.

- If you have any questions you should contact your local fire department.