The fall chill is in the air, a sign winter will soon be here.
In an effort to fend off the cold, many residents turn to furnaces and space heaters. So, now is the time to think safety.
In 2014 alone, 120 residential fires were heating-related, and we always see a marked increase in fires during the colder months. Since 2012, we have seen a drastic increase in reports of residential fires caused by heating in Kansas.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), four out of five heating fire deaths (81 percent), more than two-thirds of the injuries (70 percent) and half of the property damage (51 percent) involve stationary or portable space heaters, including wood stoves.
To be warm and safer from fire hazards this winter, we offer these tips:
• Select heating equipment that is rated by the manufacturer for the size of space you intend to heat.
• Have any installation done by a professional, if possible, and make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside.
• Keep combustibles, such as blankets, paper, walls, etc., at least three feet away from your heating equipment. Interior walls were the top point of ignition for residential fires last year.
• Do not leave portable heaters unattended. Turn them off when going to bed.
• Be sure to plug portable heaters directly into the outlet and not into power strips or extension cords.
• Have your heating equipment inspected and cleaned before heating season.
• Always use the right kind of fuel specified by the manufacturer for fuel burning space heaters.
• Cooking appliances should not be used to heat a home.
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping room and on every level of the home. Test them once a month.
These heating tips are equally important to apply to outbuildings and detached garages, where heaters are plugged in during work in the colder months. These buildings often do not have smoke alarms and store highly combustible materials, making them even more dangerous.
We all want to stay warm. Let’s all stay safe as well.