Residents encouraged to take extra precautions when dealing with heating equipment

Officials from the National Fire Protection Association are encouraging area residents to be extra safe when using heating equipment during days with lower temperatures.

Half of home heating fires in the United States are reported during the months of December, January and February. And with Floridians not being used to dealing with cold weather, officials say it’s particularly important to use extra caution when using heating equipment and fireplaces.
Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space-heating equipment, water heaters and central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel – specified by the manufacturer – for fuel- burning space heaters.
  • Make sure fireplaces have sturdy screens to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Makes sure 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.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.