Winter Heating Safety Tips for Atlanta Residents

Stay warm safely in Atlanta this winter

The cold weather in Atlanta is here to stay for a while, and officials have already begun to warn people about the importance of winter heating safety. Heating equipment fires are the second leading cause of home fires in the US (second to cooking fires), half of which occur between December and February.  During 2012 in Georgia alone, there were over 341 fires in homes due to home heating accidents. Sadly enough most of these fires were caused by human error and could have been prevented.  Improper use, cleaning and maintenance are just some of the causes: here are some prevention tips.

  • The #1 cause of these fires are heaters that are placed to close to furniture, curtains, bedding, etc. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from space heaters, radiators, or any other home heating equipment.  Make sure that children and pets are at a safe distance away as well and are not let unattended.
  • When pulling out heating equipment for the season, always make sure to inspect it for damage.  Frayed wires, cracks to any part of the cords or equipment need to be fixed by an electrician or the equipment needs to be replaced.
  • Remember to ALWAYS turn off the heating equipment if you are going to be leaving the house, the room or going to bed (most fires occur between 6-8pm and fire deaths between 2-4am).
  • If your home has a working fireplace that you will be using as a heat source, make sure that it is cleaned if necessary and inspected for cracks, blocks, leaks or build up prior to use. Always make sure the flue is open for proper ventilation and it is always a good idea to use a fireplace screen to prevent burning embers from popping out of the fire and into your home.
  • Buy and use only seasoned wood, not trash, papers or other household items to burn in your wood stove or fireplace.  Make sure that you have the proper stove board under your wood stove, to protect flooring from heat and hot embers.
  • Make sure that ALL smoke detectors in the house are working.  There should be detectors on every level of the home as well is in bedrooms.  Replace batteries about once a year, and the actual smoke detector itself about every 10 years.
  • Only use the type of fuel listed by the manufacturer for fuel burning space heaters.  Turn off the heater and allow the fuel to cool before refilling.

In 2010, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 57,100-reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 490 civilian deaths, 1,530 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. (nfpa.org) We all think, “Oh this could never happen to me,” but it can.  PLEASE just take a little bit of your time to do a check of your equipment and follow the guidelines for using it. You and your family will be glad that you did!

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