Winter Fire Safety

Keep Safe and Warm During the Winter

As the temperature outside drops, Olivette families take to the indoors to keep safe and warm. What they may not realize is that turning up the heat can increase the risk of home heating fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter months. On average, NFPA research show that heating equipment is involved in an estimated 60,420 reported U.S. home structure fires per year, with associated loss of 488 civilian deaths, 1,621 civilian injuries and $913 million in direct property damage per year.

While these numbers are frightening, nearly all of these fires are preventable, we can reduce the number of home heating fires in our community by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly.

Simple home heating safety tips:

  • Have your chimney inspected each year and cleaned if necessary.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
  • Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
  • Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home and other locations as required by code or law. For the best protection have CO alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds they all sound.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.                                                     

Put a Freeze on Winter Fires

We urge everyone to use extreme caution when heating their homes this winter, and to keep anything that can burn far away from heating equipment.

Placing a heat source too close to things that can burn is a leading cause of home heating equipment fires, and it’s the leading cause of related fire deaths; half of all home heating fire deaths result from heating equipment being placed too close to things that can burn.

We strongly encourage people to keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment, and to create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around them as well. By taking these and other simple safety precautions, everyone can significantly reduce their risk of fires.

For portable electric heaters:

  • Place them on a solid, flat surface, away from high traffic areas and doorways.
  • Turn them off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Use and purchase heaters with an automatic shut off so if they’re tipped over they will shut off.
  • Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
  • Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections; replace before using.

Carbon Monoxide Risk in the Winter

The winter months are here. As the mercury begins to dip, damaged or poorly maintained heating equipment may be used, cars may be warming up in the garage, there may be a lack of ventilation in the home with windows closed for the winter or generators used when electricity is out due to a winter storm. People don’t realize how dangerous these practices can be. Any fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, space or portable heaters), portable generators, and chimneys can produce carbon monoxide. Using a gas stove for heat can cause carbon monoxide (CO) fumes to fill the home. And a vehicle running inside a garage is a danger zone for poisonous carbon monoxide that can also fill the home. Learn more about how to protect yourself from Carbon Monoxide