Michael Thomas, Public Fire Education Officer, 545-3701
Heating Safety – The Columbia Fire Department strongly discourages the use of portable heaters.
Based on 2003-2007 annual averages:
- Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (32%) of home heating fires and over three-fourths (79%) of home heating fire deaths.
- The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (25%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
- Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for close to half (46%) of home heating fire deaths.
- Half (49%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February. (NFPA)
Heating Safety Tips
- Always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Before purchasing a space heater make sure that it is approved by UL or another independent testing laboratory.
- Purchase heaters with automatic shutoff features.
- Keep anything that can burn 3ft away from heating appliances.
- Unplug the unit when not in use, when leaving the room, and before going to bed.
- Plug heater directly into an outlet. Do not use extension cords.
- Read and follow manufacturer instructions.
- Provide three feet of clearance from items that can burn.
- Never use gasoline.
- Refuel only after the unit has cooled completely.
- Use and refuel in areas that are ventilated.
Fireplace and wood stoves
- Have chimney and connectors inspected annually by a professional.
- Clean as often as needed.
- Be sure to open the flue.
- Provide a screen for fireplaces.
Gas or electric furnaces
Gas and electric furnaces should be inspected and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
Carbon monoxide detectors
If you have any fuel burning appliances in your home you need a carbon monoxide detector. Fuel burning appliances include: gas stove, gas or wood fire place, gas hot water heater, gas dyer or any other appliance that is not powered by battery or electricity.
Smoke alarms are the most important piece of life safety equipment a family can have in their home. A working smoke alarm increases your chance of surviving a fire by 50 percent. Smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling or on the wall 6 to 8 inches from the ceiling. For the minimum protection provide at least one smoke alarm on each level outside of sleeping area. For maximum protection install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside of all sleeping areas and at least one on each level of the home. Test smoke alarms monthly. Replace batteries annually. Replace smoke alarms every ten years even if they still work.
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