Follow Home Heating Safety Tips to Prevent House Fires

Home Fire Safety
Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires.

Home fires are the single most common disaster that the American Red Cross responds to across the country and heating fires are the second leading cause of these home fires.

With nearly half of American families using alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm and an ice storm wreaking havoc throughout the Southeast, it is important to review home heating safety tips.

First, make sure you have a working smoke alarm which reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.

Smoke Alarm Safety

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Never disable smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • In case the power goes out during the ice storm and you need alternative sources of heat, or plan to use candles, follow the below safety tips.

    Home Heating Tips

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.
  • Candle Safety Tips

  • Remember that lit candles are fire. Keep them at least 12 inches from anything that can burn, such as curtains, bedding, mattresses, paper, books, flammable decorations, clothing, and upholstered furniture.
  • Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Place candles where they cannot be reached or knocked over by pets and children.
  • During an emergency, always use flashlights and not candles as light sources.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. And keep all matches and lighters out of reach and out of site of children.
  • Keep all lit candles and other open flames away from any flammable liquids.
  • Visit for more information on how to prevent fires.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.