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Heating Your Home Safely

Fire Safety
Nearly half of the households in this country use alternative heating sources

With days getting shorter and temperatures getting cooler, it’s the time of year when many people turn up the heat in their homes. It’s also the time of year when the number of home fires goes up, which are often caused from using alternative heating methods.
The Red Cross has steps you can follow to get your home ready for cooler weather and remain safe:
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.
  • Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house and that they have fresh batteries.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit to have ready when winter storms hit. The kit should include a three-day supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries.
  • Spread sand, rock salt or kitty litter on walkways and steps to make them less slippery.


Nearly half of the households in this country use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.
The Red Cross recommends you look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in your home. Other safety tips include:
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.