No matter what type of heating your family relies on to stay warm during the winter months, there are a number of precautions that should be taken to make sure they do not pose an increased fire risk. Any type of heating source should be inspected every summer so that it's ready to go by the time colder weather approaches.
Here are some home heating safety tips to properly check and maintain some types of heating that you and your family may use in your house:
Furnaces and Fire-Free Furnaces
- Inspect your furnace for damage before using it for the first time every year.
- Be careful when extinguishing or relighting pilot lights on gas furnaces. If you smell gas, turn off the furnace and immediately leave your home. From a safe place, call the gas company and the fire department.
- Make sure to have any vents, chimneys or flues inspected every year by a qualified service provider before using a furnace for the first time each year.
- Check with local building codes before making any changes to your heating system.
Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
- Have your chimney or flue inspected by a certified professional at least once a year.
- Use a protective screen in front of open fireplaces.
- Keep any flammable materials at least three-feet away from any open flame to prevent them catching fire.
- Never throw liquid fuel, compressed gas canisters or batteries into the fire.
- Completely extinguish fires before leaving your home or going to bed.
- Once the fire has been put out, place the ashes in a non-combustible container. Ashes can remain hot for several days, so the container should be stored outside and away from any decks and wall siding.
- Space heaters should always be placed at least three feet from furniture, walls and anything that could ignite from the heat.
- Only use the manufacturer-recommended fuel in your portable heater.
- Never add fuel to a space heater while it's in use. Wait until it has been turned off and cooled down completely, and then take it outdoors to fill it with fuel.
- Check for any damage to the cord and heater before and after each use. If any damage is detected, wait for it to cool down and then discard it immediately.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters at all times.
- Turn the heater off and make sure it is unplugged before going to bed or leaving the room.
It is also recommended that you regularly check sources such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure your heating source has not been recalled or had a safety bulletin issued about it. If your heating device has been recalled or is illegal, do not use it and follow the disposal or return instructions provided by the manufacturer.