‘Tis The Season for Extra Heat – How to Prevent Heating Fires

We just had our first freeze here in DFW, and many people are starting to use their heating system more and more regularly. For many people. There is nothing worse than being cold, so they pull out all the stops to keep warm. Turning on the HVAC is often accompanied by using smaller space heaters, lighting the fireplace, and using electric blankets. Unfortunately, some of these comfort items are also fire hazards. Heating equipment is a leading cause of household fires in the US. Between 2012 and 2016, local fire departments responded to over 52,000 fires started by heating equipment. These fires have resulted in nearly 500 deaths, 1400 injuries, and $1 billion in property damage. Here are some of the risks associated with common heating solutions. Read on to learn how to stay warm and stay safe.

Space Heaters

Space heaters can be an attractive solution on a cold evening because it delivers heat quickly and close up, which can be a lot more convenient than waiting for the HVAC system to warm the house. However, space heaters pose a major risk for fires when not used properly. Often, people place space heaters too close to materials that can catch fire, such as blankets, upholstery, and clothing. Additionally, space heaters need a lot of power to operate. This can and overload power strips, extension cords, and outlets with lower capacities. This leads to overheating and fires.

If you find it necessary to use space heaters, it’s important to follow safety precautions to lower the risk of fire. 

  • Leave a 3 ft radius around the space heater that is clear of furniture, drapery, and any loos fabric that could overheat and catch fire.
  • Space heaters should be attended at all times. Turn them off when you’re not in the room or sleeping.
  • Never plug space heaters into power strips or extension cords. Check the capacity of your outlets at your breaker box and make sure your heater doesn’t draw more power (in amps) than the outlet is designed for.

Fireplaces

There are few things as comforting as a roaring fire in the fireplace on a cold winter night. However, fireplaces require proper maintenance and ventilation to provide a safe source of heat for your home. You should have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a professional. Chimney experts have the proper equipment and knowledge of how these systems work. They know how to spot damage that could pose a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning risk. Once you have completed the maintenance step, there are other important safety measures you should take to protect your home. 

  • Make sure the flue is open before you start a fire. This ensures that harmful gases are vented outside the house.
  • Always use a screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room
  • Make sure that ash is completely cooled before emptying it into a metal container outdoors.
  • Never leave a burning fire unattended

Other Causes

While space heaters and fireplaces are the biggest culprits when it comes to heating equipment fires, there are additional items that can also cause problems.

  • Electric blankets – While these don’t produce as much heat as space heaters, they pose similar danger. This is especially true for their electric components. Always inspect electric blankets for any wiring issues before using. Always try to plug them directly into a wall outlet with a sufficient capacity. Use them on the lowest setting possible and never use them unattended, which means turning them off to sleep. 
  • Wood burning stoves – The fireplace’s little cousin poses similar risks as a fire hazard. Always  make sure these stoves ventilate out of the house and use a screen or keep the door closed. Only use when well attended and make sure fires are completely extinguished before leaving or sleeping.
  • Ovens – desperate times call for desperate measures, and every year there are stories about tragedy resulting from using a stove as a heater. If you have a gas stove, this creates a huge risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. It also creates a heat source that is unattended, which is always a fire hazard. Additionally, it’s just not very effective. Ovens weren’t created to warm entire rooms, so trying to use one that way simply doesn’t justify the risk.

Central Heat is the Safest, Most Effective Option

The best way to heat your home is with your central heating system. When it is properly installed and configured, it should be efficient and comfortable. If you are having trouble getting your system to heat your home effectively, you may need a maintenance visit! In fact, we are currently offering our winter tune-up service for $89. Give us a call to schedule your maintenance visit today!

Contact Superior Today