With the cold temps comes a word of caution. Space heaters, kerosene, even heated blankets can all prove to be a fire hazard if handled improperly. Simple rules such as, keeping three foot of clearance from any combustible materials away from them. About 30% of state fire fatalities are heat product related. The risk of fire always increases any time heaters are turned on and fireplaces are in use. As such, we need to remain vigilant about fire safety, especially since our statistics reveal more home fires occur during the winter months than during any other part of the year.
Tips to keep homes and families safe this winter season:
- Only use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Inspect the heater for cracked or broken plugs. If frayed, worn, or damaged, do not use the heater.
- Keep the unit on a flat surface at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Use this “three feet rule” and don’t let pets or children play too close to the heater.
- Never leave heaters unattended.
- Refuel a kerosene heater outdoors.
- Always plug the space heater directly into the wall, not an extension cord or power strip; unplug when not in use.
- Don’t use either to dry wet clothing.
- Heating pads and electric blankets also pose a fire risk – especially if more than 10 years old. Don’t place anything on top of either one while in use – this includes other blankets or pets. Never fold electric blankets or use while sleeping.
- Portable generators, commonly used in the winter as a result of storm-induced power outages, produce odorless and deadly carbon monoxide. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to prevent death from carbon monoxide. Never use a generator indoors.
- Be careful when using candles and keep them out of reach of children and pets. Since it is an open flame, never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home. Use sturdy candle holders and extinguish upon leaving a room or going to sleep.
- Since they are much safer to use than candles, have flashlights ready to use in case of a power outage.