Home heating safety

Don't be a statistic: Heat your home safely

A roaring fire on a cold Sunday morning feels decadent and luxurious. A bunch of firefighters in your living room? Not so much.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. And half of those home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment — furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Don’t leave small children alone around open fires and space heaters. And use a 3-foot “kid-free zone” rule.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
  • When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Ovens are for food, not for heat. Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • They’re called professionals for a reason. Let experts install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year. Again, trust the experts.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the appropriate fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a screen to stop rolling logs and to keep sparks from flying into the room. Wait until the ashes are cool before putting them in a metal container and keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

And perhaps the most important thing of all: Use common sense. If it seems risky, don’t do it.

If the worst thing does happen, are you covered? Check our great coverages for your home and contact an agent for an insurance checkup so your winter doesn’t get too hot.

National Fire Protection Association
American Red Cross