Heater and Fireplace Safety

As the temperatures cool, people turn to furnaces, portable heaters and fires to stay warm. North Metro Fire Rescue District wants to remind families of the risks associated with heating equipment and provide tips to keep everyone safe AND warm.

fireplaceEvery year, North Metro Fire and fire departments across the country respond to emergencies involving a space heater, fireplace or chimney that has sparked a fire in the home. In fact, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires and home fire deaths.

Give space heaters some space

A portable heater can be a convenient way to warm up a drafty room or provide heat in a workshop during winter months. However, residents should remember these tips when using a heater to avoid a fire from occurring:

  • Purchase a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing company.
  • Place the heater on a level, nonflammable surface at least three feet away from any flammable materials, such as bedding, drapes and furniture.
  • Keep watch over children and pets when they are in the vicinity of space heaters.
  • Don’t leave a space heater unattended, and don’t leave a space heater on while sleeping.
  • Follow the instructions from the manufacturer on how to use the heater.
  • Avoid using multi-plug adapters and extension cords to supply electricity to the heater. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is heavy duty and marked with a power rating at least as high as that on the label of the heater itself.

Chimney sweeps aren’t just in the movies           

Many of us may have been introduced to chimney sweeps in the classic Mary Poppins movie, but in real life they serve an important role in maintaining fireplaces and chimneys. It’s important for residents to have their chimney professionally inspected each year to make sure it’s free of debris and buildup that could spark a fire. Plus, a professional will be able to inspect for structural damage to the chimney that may not be visible from the outside. Having a cap installed at the top of the chimney can help minimize the risk of debris blocking the chimney in the future.

Inside the home, residents should clean out the ashes and make sure the damper is open before starting a fire. They should keep a screen around the fireplace when in use to prevent any sparks from flying onto nearby furnishings or carpet. Screens also deter pets and children from getting too close to the fire. It’s important to remember that embers can burn for a long time. Whether building a fire inside or in an outdoor fire pit, residents should ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.

For more tips on fire protection for the home during winter months, visit www.northmetrofire.org.