HOPKINTON — Chief William Miller and the Hopkinton Fire Department would like to provide residents with safety tips for heating homes and staying warm this winter.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating is the second leading cause of home fires and more than 150 people in the U.S. die every year from accidental non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators.
In order to keep residents warm and safe, the Hopkinton Fire Department wishes to share the following tips from the National Fire Protection Association (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 Hopkinton 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.