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  Supplemental Heating Home Fire SafetyMonday, October 23rd, 2017  


Supplemental Heating Home Fire Safety
The use of supplemental room heaters, such as wood and coal burning stoves, kerosene heaters, gas space heaters and electrical heaters, has decreased, along with the number of residential fires.

Even though there has been a decrease in fires associated with supplemental heaters, it is important to remember that about 120,000 residential fires still occur annually with the use of these heaters, or about 22 percent of all residential fires. These fires kill more than 600 people. Annually there are thousands of contact burn injuries and hundreds of carbon monoxide poisonings.

Wood Stoves
  1. The wood stove or fireplace has been installed according to existing building codes and manufacturer's instructions.

  2. The chimney and stovepipe are checked frequently during the heating season for creosote buildup and are cleaned when necessary.

  3. The stove sits on a non-combustible or on a code-specified or listed floor protector.

  4. Combustibles such as curtains, chairs, firewood, etc., are at least three feet away from the stove.

  5. Only proper fuel is used in the stove.

  6. A metal container with a tight-fitting lid is used for ash removal.
Wood Stove Safety Recommendations:
  • Do not use wood burning stoves and fireplaces unless they are properly installed and meet building codes.

  • Follow the label instructions on the stove which recommends an inspection twice monthly. Have chimneys inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Creosote is an unavoidable product of wood burning stoves. Creosote builds up in chimney flues and can cause a chimney fire. To cut down on creosote buildup, avoid smoldering fires.

  • Use a code-specified or listed floor protector. It should extend 18 inches beyond the stove on all sides. This will reduce the possibility of the floor being ignited.

  • Follow the instructions on the stove label for proper location of the stove from combustible walls.

  • Never burn trash in a stove because this could over heat the stove. Gasoline and other flammable liquids should never be used to start wood stove fires. Gasoline will ignite and explode. Use coal only if designated as appropriate by the manufacturer.
Kerosene Heaters
You should be able to respond "yes" to the following safety statements.
  1. Only 1-K kerosene is used and it is bought from a dealer who can certify that the product is 1-K kerosene.

  2. The heater is placed out of the path of traffic areas such as doorways and hallways.

  3. Kerosene is stored outdoors, and out of the reach of children in a tightly sealed, preferably blue plastic or metal container, labeled "kerosene."

  4. No attempt is to be made to move the heater if flare-up (flames outside the heater cabinet) occurs. The fire department is called immediately.

  5. The heater is used in well ventilated rooms.

  6. The heater is turned off while sleeping and is never left operating unattended.

  7. The heater is placed at least three feet away from anything that might catch fire such as clothing, furniture, curtains, etc.
Kerosene Heater Safety Recommendations:
  • Check with your local fire marshal regarding local and state codes and regulations for using a kerosene heater.

  • NEVER USE GASOLINE. Even small amounts of gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of fire.

  • Use properly labeled containers. It reduces the likelihood of mistaking gasoline for kerosene.

  • Place heater so it will not be knocked over or trap you in case of fire.

  • Use 1-K kerosene because grades other than 1-K contain much more sulfur and will increase sulfur dioxide emissions, posing a possible health problem. If you buy kerosene from a gasoline station make sure you and/or the attendant are using the kerosene pump, not the gasoline pump.

  • Never fill the heater while it is operating. Always refuel the heater outdoors to prevent spillage on floors and rugs which could later result in fire ignition.

  • Keep the room in which the heater operates ventilated (e.g. door open or the window ajar). This will prevent an indoor air pollution problem and minimize health problems. Kerosene heaters are not usually vented.

  • Keep flammable liquids and fabrics away from an open flame.

  • Never try to move the heater or try to smother the flames with a rug or a blanket if a flare-up occurs. Activate the manual shut-off switch and call the fire department. Moving the heater may increase the height of the flames and cause leakage resulting in personal injury.
Gas-Fired Space Heaters
You should be able to respond "yes" to the following safety statements.
  1. Only vented heaters are installed or used in sleeping quarters.

  2. Vented heaters are properly vented to the outside.

  3. The unvented gas-fired room heater has a warning label and instructions that are followed.

  4. The unvented gas-fired room heater has a label stating it has a "pilot safety system" which turns off the gas if not enough fresh air is available.

  5. The vented heater has a label stating that is equipped with a vent safety shutoff system.

  6. If the heater uses liquified petroleum (LP) gas, the container is located outside the house.

  7. The manufacturer's instructions for lighting the pilot are followed.

  8. Matches are lighted before turning on the gas if pilot lighting is required.

  9. Flammable materials and liquids are kept away from gas heating appliances.
Gas-Fired Space Heaters Safety Recommendations:
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding where and how to use gas space heaters. Unvented heaters should not be used in small enclosed areas, especially bedrooms because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Do not use a propane heater (LP) which has a gas cylinder stored in the body of the heater. Its use is prohibited in most states and localities in the United States.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting the pilot. Gas vapors may accumulate and ignite explosively, burning your hand or face.

  • Light matches, if needed for lighting the pilot, before turning on the gas to prevent gas buildup.

  • Do not operate a vented style heater unvented. It could allow combustion products, including carbon monoxide, to reach dangerous levels which will result in illness and death.
Portable Electric Heaters
The Commission estimates that half the deaths and one-third of the injuries resulting from electric heater fires occurred at night when family members were asleep and the heater unattended. The Commission is also concerned about the use of power or extension cords which can be too small to supply the amount of current required by the typical portable electric heater.

You should be able to respond "yes" to the following safety statements.
  1. The heater is operated at least three feet away from upholstered furniture, drapes, bedding and other combustible materials.

  2. The extension cord (if used) is marked #14 or #12 American Wire Gauge (AWG).

  3. The heater is used on the floor.

  4. The heater is turned off when family members leave the house or are sleeping.
Portable Electric Heaters Safety Recommendations:
  • Operate heater away from combustible materials. Do not place heaters where towels or the like could fall on the appliance and trigger a fire.

  • Avoid using extension cords unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord with your electric heater, make sure it is marked with a power rating at least as high as that of the heater itself. Keep the cord stretched out. Do not permit the cord to become buried under carpeting or rugs. Do not place anything on top of the cord.

  • Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture or the like. Never use heaters to dry wearing apparel or shoes.




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