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January 1, 2020

Prevent Home Heating Fires

Half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, so please take extra precautions as the temperatures continue to fall.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is responsible for 15 percent of all home structure fires and millions of dollars in property damage. Heating equipment is defined as not just space heaters or portable heaters, but also stationary heaters, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and central (whole house) heating systems and hot water heaters. 

The NFPA reports the following based on findings from 2012-2016: 

  • Most home heating fire deaths (86%) involved stationary or portable space heaters.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (27%) was a failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (54%) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.

NJFSAB encourages everyone to keep in mind the following safety tips to help reduce the chance of fire breaking out in your home.

Space heaters
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room, going to bed, or leaving the home.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from ALL heating equipment.
• Always place a space heater on solid, flat surface.
• Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
• Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections – do not use if damaged make sure to replace the item.

Stationary Heaters
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys annually by a qualified professional.
• 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 a safe distance from your home.

General Safety Tips
• Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
• Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a detector to your home.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.

“There are many simple steps you can take to help avoid fire, but one of the best ways to help protect your home and family is to install a fire sprinkler system,” said Dave Kurasz, Executive Director of New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Fire sprinklers can detect and extinguish flames quickly, reducing property damage and saving lives by providing more time to safety escape. Many times, fire sprinklers can suppress the fire faster than the time it takes for the fire department to respond.”

Here is a list of additional resources about fire sprinklers and home heating fire safety:

NFPA Home Heating Fire Fact Sheet
NFPA Home Heating Fire Video
FEMA Home Heating Fire Safety Tips

January 1, 2020

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