As the temperature outside drops, Tioga County families take to the indoors to keep safe and warm. What they may not realize is that turning up the heat can increase the risk of home heating fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter months. On average, NFPA research shows that heating equipment is involved in more than 56,000 reported U.S. home structure fires per year, with associated loss of more than 470 civilian deaths, more than 1,490 civilian injuries and roughly $1.0 billion in direct property damage per year.
“While these numbers are frightening, nearly all of these fires are preventable,” said Jamie O’Connor, volunteer firefighter “We can reduce the number of home heating fires in our community by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly.”
NFPA and Berkshire Fire Department recommend some simple home heating safety tips, so residents can help keep our community safe and warm this winter.
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, and outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Be sure your home has both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor smoke alarms.
Practice your home fire escape drill.
Have your chimney inspected each year by a qualified professional and cleaned if necessary.
Use a sturdy fireplace screen.
Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and other locations as required by laws, codes or standards.
Never use an oven to heat your home.
If you live in the Berkshire Fire district and need assistance checking or replacing your smoke detectors and/or carbon monoxide alarm batteries, contact the Berkshire Fire Department at (607) 657-2727 and leave a message. They will call you back to schedule a time to come to your home.