Space heaters are a top cause of home fires during winter
Submitted by The Firefighters Association of the State of New York
This winter is projected to be a cold and bitter one in New York state, with many regions already experiencing record chills and snowfall. The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) reminds New Yorkers to follow some essential safety tips when heating their homes this winter.
Fire departments usually see an uptick in home fires during the winter, with nearly half of all home heating equipment fires occurring during December, January and February. Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure and poisonings also increase during these months.
“There is an increased risk of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning this time of year as residents use space heaters, portable heating sources, gas furnaces, and fireplaces to heat their homes,” FASNY President Edward Tase Jr. said. “We encourage New Yorkers to take proper precautions when they heat their homes this season.”
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, accounting for more than two of every five fires (44%), as well as the vast majority of deaths and injuries in home fires caused by heating equipment.
Homeowners should keep space heaters a safe distance from combustible materials, such as curtains, bedding, and upholstered furniture. To prevent CO exposure and poisoning, avoid the indoor use of unvented gas-burning appliances, unvented gas or wood-burning stoves, and unvented fireplaces.
“Homeowners should check that all heating equipment is functioning properly and that furnace and dryer vents are clear of ice and other debris,” Tase said. “As we turn up the heat, it is crucial to ensure that there are working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of the home and outside of sleeping areas. These devices can be the difference between life and death. We want all New Yorkers to be fire-safe this winter, and remember: If there is a fire: Get out, stay out, and call 911.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation to help curb the preventable deaths caused by space heater fires. Legislation S.7863A/A.9181B requires that space heaters sold in New York state have a thermostat, automatic shut off, and be certified by a testing and certification body recognized and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Here are some home heating tips from FASNY and the NFPA:
√ Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
√ Have a 3-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 or 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.
√ All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
√ Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
√ Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York represents the interests of the approximately 85,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York state. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.