CANTON — As temperatures drop and with winter on the horizon, Chief Charles Doody and the Canton Fire Department would like to provide residents with safety tips for heating homes and staying warm this winter.
“As temperatures begin to drop this year, it’s important to know how to keep yourself, members of your household and your property safe from fires that can be caused by heating equipment,” Chief Doody said. “In addition, carbon monoxide can be especially dangerous during the winter season as people heat their homes and vehicles, and as a result of heavy snowfall that may build up around vents.”
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 Canton 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 3 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 3-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.
Residents are also encouraged to check their smoke and CO alarms periodically to ensure they are working properly, as well as develop and practice a home escape plan with all members of the household.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
Known also as the “invisible killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and poisonous gas produced whenever any fuel is burned, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal. Other sources of CO include furnaces and water heaters, chimneys, wood stoves, grills, camping stoves, gas ovens and gas snow removal or yard equipment machines.
All homes should have CO alarms. If a CO alarm goes off in your home, all residents should leave the house immediately and call 911 from outside or from a neighbor’s house.
The Canton Fire Department would like to remind residents of the following carbon monoxide safety tips from the NFPA:
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound. Choose a CO alarm that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel declare that it is safe to re-enter the home.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not
covered with snow.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. High-level CO poisoning can cause loss of consciousness and ultimately death.
Any resident with questions regarding home heating safety or carbon monoxide safety can contact Fire Prevention Lt. Tom Norton at 781-575-6654.