As temperatures outside drop, your heating inside rises. Unfortunately, so too does the inherent risk for a house fire. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), heating is typically the second-leading cause of home fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries.
The cold of winter can be rough, certainly, but keeping warm shouldn’t be dangerous. With guidance from the NFPA and assistance from the Arlington County Fire Department, we’ve collected some precautionary tips and information to help keep you safe — and warm — this winter.
Safety precautions when heating your home
- Keep anything that can burn 3 feet away from heating equipment.
- Have a 3-foot“kid-free zone” around a space heater or any open fire.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and serviced every year by a qualified professional. (The Arlington County Fire Department offers free home safety checks to residents of Arlington and the City of Falls Church.)
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface – not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
- Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed. • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy fire screen to stop sparks or rolling logs.
- Always maintain a working smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to help keep your family safe.
Facts and figures
- The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths is heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.
- Home heating fires peak from 6 to 8 p.m., and associated deaths most often occur from 2 to 4 a.m.
- Fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths.
- Half of home heating equipment fires occur during the months of December, January and February.
Arlington County Fire Department urges everyone learn how to prevent fires. Call 703-228-4644 with any questions about the safety of your family or your community.