As we enter autumn it’s a great time to begin preparations for a fire safe winter in buildings and homes. 1 in 6 home fires in the United States are attributed to heating equipment, as are 1 in 5 residential fire deaths.
The single most important action that can be taken by home and building owners, tenants and maintenance personnel is to ensure a minimum distance of 3 feet be maintained between heating appliances and combustible items and materials. Mechanical rooms, fireplaces, woodstoves, boilers, space heaters and candles must be clear of igniting combustible materials by radiant heating and direct flame impingement.
It is time to have chimney’s and flue pipes serving fireplaces, wood and pellet stoves and gas and oil burning equipment inspected and cleaned when needed. The time to ensure an open path for exhausting of smoke and gases is not during the first use of the appliance when a clog can cause smoke buildup and backup as well as Carbon Monoxide infiltration in the home.
In addition to following local codes and manufacturer directions, the following actions are necessary to help maintain a fire safe heating/winter season:
- Annual inspection and service of heat producing appliances should be conducted before the heating season begins. New filters, nozzles, insulation and seals will help make the heating season safer.
- Generator service for stationary and portable generators should also be conducted before winter storms. The location they are placed during emergency use and the need for exhausted gases to be away from windows and doors of the home should be determined before their use.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- Turn off space heaters when not at home or going to bed.
- Always make sure fires in fireplaces are out before going to bed.
- Use glass doors and metal screens to keep embers inside the fireplace.
- Use a metal ash bucket with a lid when cleaning fireplaces and woodstoves and do not place discarded ashes near or in garbage cans, garages, breezeways or the sides of homes/garages.
- Have a fire extinguisher available near heating appliances.
- When using portable space heaters keep away from furniture, draperies, bedding, and clothing.
- Never use extension cords or power strips with portable space heaters.
- Never use commercial space heaters in a residential occupied building.
- If using a Kerosene heater only use one approved by a listed and recognized testing laboratory, when refilling the fuel source always fill outside the home.
This time of year also brings us into the fall and winter holiday season. Fall decorations can include dried vegetation such as corn stalks, hay bales, hay stuffed scarecrows and dried table centerpieces and mantels. It is important that a fire proof spray be applied to these type of decorations and can be purchased at most craft stores.
Candles, used in these types of decorations should be placed in a heavy glass or metal holder away from the decorations.
Candles should never be placed near decorations that children have access to. Candles should always be out of reach of children and kept out of walkways, hallways and window sills with draperies.
Consider purchasing newer battery operated no flame type candles to erase any chance of accidental fire.