Firefighters offer tips on staying safe using indoor heating equipment

Published: Mar. 4, 2019 at 5:08 PM CST
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According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment like furnaces, fireplaces and portable space heaters is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes.

"43% of residential heating fires are caused by space heaters," Capt. Brian McDaniel said.

Ardmore Fire Captain Brian McDaniel advises keeping heating equipment at least three feet away from flammable objects like curtains and blankets.

He says space heaters should never be plugged into an extension cord and should be turned off when you leave the room or go to bed.

The NFPA reports nearly half of all space heater fires involved electric space heaters.

"They're not designed to run 24 hours a day 7 days a week, some people use them in those capacities but they are just designed to heat a small area," McDaniel said.

If you're using a fireplace to keep warm, make sure there's a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying in the room and have a covered metal container to dispose cooled ashes in.

Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and don't use your stove to heat your house.

"Alternative fuel sources, propane heaters, those are dangerous because those produce carbon monoxide," McDaniel said. "Your stove and oven can do that as well if it's gas - it can produce carbon monoxide and be very dangerous."

McDaniel says to bundle up with extra layers and blankets inside your home.

Try to stay in one part of the house and close doors or use blankets in doorways to keep the heat in that one area.

Also, check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and if you have to use a space heater ...

"Most of the newer space heaters have anti-tipping switches in them, if they tip over they turn off but some older ones don't have those safety features," McDaniel said. "If you have to use those to heat your home, it's best to have one of the newer models with those safety features."