NORTH READING– As the temperatures drop and with winter on the horizon, Chief Don Stats and the North Reading Fire Department would like to provide residents with safety tips for heating homes and staying warm this winter.
“When it comes to protecting you and your family this winter, one of the first things you should do is have your heating equipment or chimneys checked out by a licensed professional,” Chief Stats said. “During the first few months of the winter, we tend to see an increase in reported home heating fires, so it’s vital that we all take the necessary steps to make sure everything is working properly to help reduce that risk.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 52,050 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2012-2016, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires during this time. Additionally, half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.
In order to keep residents warm and safe, the North Reading Fire Department wishes to share the following tips from the NFPA to help prevent heating related home fires:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment,
like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
- If you have children living in your home, have a three-foot “kid-free zone”
around open fires and space heaters to ensure their safety.
- Avoid using an oven to heat your home. Residents should have a licensed professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Avoid using space heaters as your primary heating source in your home.
- Never leave portable heaters on when you leave a room or the house, or go to bed.
- All heating equipment/chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every year by a licensed professional.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Additionally, the North Reading Fire Department encourages residents to check their smoke and CO alarms periodically to ensure they are working.