Winter Fire Safety

The misuse of wood stoves, portable space heaters, and kerosene heaters are common risks in rural areas, where individuals are twice as likely to die in a fire as individuals living in cities and suburban areas.

Fireplaces

  • Fireplaces must be inspected and cleaned regularly because they build up creosote in their chimneys that can quickly start a fire.
  • Check for cracks or any obstructions.
  • Make sure the damper is open before starting a fire.
  • Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup.
  • Use a heavy screen to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Wood Stoves

When shopping for a wood stove, look for solid construction, like plate steel or cast iron. Then remember to closely follow the manufacturer's installation and maintenance instructions. Check for cracks in the body of the stove and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only well-seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, paper or trash. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Be sure to keep combustible objects at least three feet away from your wood stove.

Electric Space Heaters

Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Buy only those heaters that have a thermostat control mechanism that will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Don't dry clothes on top of heaters or lay objects on top of them. Keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from each heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Kerosene Heaters

Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Only use them for their intended use and fuel them only with the manufacturers recommended fuel. Don't overfill the heater and only use it in a well-ventilated room.

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