As the temperature drops, the risk for a fire in your home rises.

With increasing energy and heating costs, people have turned to alternative methods for heating their homes, such as wood-burning stoves and space heaters. While these alternative heating methods may be more cost effective, they greatly increases your risk of home fires. Before breaking out the space heaters and collecting your firewood this winter, consider these winter fire safety tips from FEMA and the Red Cross.

KEROSENE HEATERS

  • Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup . Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal or kerosene or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
  • Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
  • NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel for it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
  • Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup . Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal or kerosene or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
  • Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
  • NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel for it may expand in the tank as it warms up.

WOOD STOVES AND FIREPLACES
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard. To use them safely:

  • Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection.
  •  Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
  • Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.

GENERATORS

  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  • Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.