The staff at INTEGRIS Paul Silverstein Burn Center would like to pass along these fire safety tips in relation to heating your home during the winter months.
First, the most important aspect of home fire safety is making sure every home has a working smoke detector, and that these detectors are checked monthly with batteries being changed annually.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms are easy to install and can save lives. They do not take the place of smoke alarms; however, having one is the next step to a safe environment in the home. Any open flame heater creates carbon monoxide gas and if your home’s heating devices are not functioning properly, this gas can be deadly. The alarms are becoming more affordable, more effective and if you have a flame operated heating device in your home, indispensable.
- Dust and lint may have accumulated in the space heater. Be sure to clean them thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner.
- Gas space heaters need to have the flame adjusted to blue in order to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide build up.
- Caution children not to stand too close to a space heater to warm up, as their clothing could catch fire.
- Give space heaters their space! Be sure that all combustible material is away from the heater, at least three inches in all directions.
- Floor furnaces are safest when they are equipped with a thermostat and automatic shut off device.
- Clean the floor furnace by removing the grate and using a vacuum to remove dust and lint from inside the unit.
- During the summer months, people often place throw rugs on the floor furnace. As the weather cools, they may remove these rugs and turn the furnace on. During the warm days following a cold snap, people often throw the rug back onto the furnace without turning the unit off. Then, when it becomes cold again, the floor furnace automatically comes back on igniting the throw rug. Be sure to remove rugs whenever the unit is switched on.
- Clean or replace the furnace filter.
- Clean the entire furnace area using a vacuum to remove dust and lint.
- Be sure to remove any brooms, boxes, magazines, newspapers or any other combustible material stored in the heater closet.
- Inspect the fireplace and chimney at least once a year. Look for cracks in the firebox, flue and chimney. Also check for build-up of soot and creosote inside the flue.
- Open the damper enough to allow the smoke and gases to escape up the chimney.
- Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid.
- Always keep a good-quality metal fireplace screen in front of the fireplace whenever it is being used to prevent burning logs from rolling out or embers from flying out.
- Keep a three-foot area in front of and to the sides of the fireplace clear of any combustibles including, logs, kindling wood, paper, rugs, clothing or furniture.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving your home or going to bed.
- Never burn charcoal in a fireplace. Charcoal gives off deadly carbon monoxide gas that can fill a room and overcome the occupants.
- Never cook in a fireplace. Grease from the food can build up inside the flue and catch fire.
- Never burn more than two or three natural logs at one time.
- Artificial logs made of compressed sawdust and wax should be handled differently from natural logs because they generate more heat. Burn only one artificial log at a time and do not burn an artificial log with natural logs.
- Always make sure fireplace ashes are placed in a metal container. Never place hot embers in a combustible container such as a trashcan. Allow ashes to cool thoroughly before disposing of them.
There are many potential problems when we are heating our homes during the cooler months. If you need professional assistance with heating equipment preparation, look in the Yellow Pages under “Heating Contractors” or “Chimney Cleaning.” With a little caution, we can all remain safe and healthy during the winter season.