As the weather becomes colder residents begin using alternative heating sources to keep our homes and families warm. Proper maintenance and precautions can help prevent a home heating fire. According the National Fire Protection Association’s report “Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment”:
- Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (32%) of home heating fires and four out of five (80%) of home heating fire deaths.
- The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (26%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
- The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (51%) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
- Home heating fires peak between 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and associated deaths peak between 2:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
OWL VFD urges residents to follow these safety tips when using alternative heating sources:
- Keep space heaters a safe distance away from anything that can burn.
- Each year, prior to using your fireplace or wood stove, have your chimney and vents inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional.
- Have a sturdy fireplace screen or keep the doors on the wood stove closed to stop sparks from flying into the room.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces and wood stoves and dry, seasoned wood pellets in pellet stoves.
- NEVER start the fire with a flammable liquid, kerosene or gasoline; use newspaper or kindling.
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away.
- NEVER leave a fireplace or wood stove fire unattended, particularly when children are present.
- Allow ashes to cool for several days before disposing (up to 4 days).
- Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container.
- Douse and saturate the ashes with water.
- Place the ash container a safe distance from your home (at least 10 feet).
- DO NOT store in your home, garage or other nearby buildings.
- Winter fires are preventable! For more heating fire safety advice visit www.nfpa.org/winter
and “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.”
OWL VFD is one of the largest and busiest volunteer fire departments in the United States with over 300 members. OWL VFD provides fire suppression, EMS care, and rescue services to 80,000 residents in our 27 square mile area through the operation of three fire stations. OWL volunteer Firefighters and EMTs work the 6 pm to 6 am shift, five days a week, plus 24/7 holidays and weekends.