Fireplace safety tips / Space heater tips

Fireplace safety tips:

  • Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for leakage and blockage by creosote or debris.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. Never close the damper or go to bed if the ashes are still warm. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
  • Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors can explode. Never keep flammable fuels or materials near a fire. Never store flammable liquids in your home.
  • Never use charcoal in a fireplace because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep a screen or glass enclosure around a fireplace to prevent sparks or embers from igniting flammable materials

Space heater tips:

  • Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person. Turn the space heater off if you leave the area.
  • Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards. An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
  • Make sure your heater is correctly rated for your home. An oversized heater could deplete the available oxygen, causing excess carbon monoxide to be produced. Keep a window in the room open at least one inch and keep doors open to the rest of the house to ensure proper ventilation. This helps prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to provide sufficient combustion air to prevent carbon monoxide production.
  • Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually to ensure proper operation.
  • Do not use a kitchen range or oven to heat your house because it could overheat or generate excessive carbon monoxide.
  • Be aware that manufactured homes require specially-designed heating equipment.
  • Do not use unvented gas space heaters where prohibited by local codes.
  • Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house, inside every bedroom, and outside the bedrooms in each sleeping area. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area.

Safety Tips

10 Tips for Fire Safety

1 – Crawl low under smoke to your exit

If you have to escape a fire through smoke, crawl low, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches above the floor, where the air is cleaner.

2 – Plan your escape

Make a home escape plan and hold regular fire drills so everyone in your household knows what to do in an emergency. When escaping a fire, feel the cracks around doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If they are warm, try another escape route.

3 – Install smoke detectors

Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home, inside and outside the bedrooms. Test them once a month, and replace your batteries twice a year.

4 – Be careful with smoking materials

Never smoke in bed or when you’re drowsy or have been drinking or taking medications.

5 – Use electrical safely

Replace damaged electrical cords and repair appliances the smell, smoke, or overheat.

6 – Cook Safely

Never leave cooking unattended, and keep cooking areas clean and uncluttered.

7 – Space heaters need space

Keep portable and space heaters at least three feet from anything that could possibly burn or ignite.

8 – Keep matches and lighters out of sight

Keep matches and lighters away from children. Store them up high in a locked cabinet.

9 – Have a home fire extinguisher available

Keep an ABC type of fire extinguisher in your home. Make sure that the unit is charged. Common places to keep an extinguisher are the kitchen, the garage, and the basement.

10 – Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch fire

If your clothing catches fire, STOP – DO NOT RUN. Drop to the ground. Roll over and over to smother the flames.

Bedroom fire Safety

Each year, fire claims the lives of 4,000 Americans and injures approximately 25,000. Bedrooms are a common area of fire origin. Nearly 1,000 lives are lost to fires that start in bedrooms. Many of these fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, such as overloading extension cords or using portable space heaters too close to combustibles. Many other bedroom fires are caused by children who play with matches and lighters, careless smoking among adults, and arson.

Kids and Fire: A Bad Match

Children are one of the highest risk groups for deaths in residential fires. At home, children usually play with fire – lighters, matches and other ignitable – in bedrooms, in closets, and under beds. These are “secret” places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.

Children of all ages set over 100,000 fires annually. Over 30% of fires that kill children are set by children playing with fire.

Every year over 800 children nine years and younger die in home fires. Keep matches and lighters locked up and away from children. Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches, evidence your child may be playing with matches. Teach your child that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Appliances Need Special Attention

Bedrooms are the most common rooms in the home where electrical fires start. Electrical fires are a special concern during winter months which call for more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Do not trap electric cords against walls where heat can build up.

Take extra care when using portable heaters. Keep bedding, clothes, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters. Only use lab-approved electric blankets and warmers. Check to make sure the cords are not frayed.

Tuck Yourself In For A Safe Sleep

Never smoke in bed. Replace mattresses made before the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required by law to be safer.

Finally, having working smoke alarms dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Place at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home and in halls outside bedrooms. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Electrical Fire Safety

Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.


During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.


December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom.


Electrical Wiring

Most electrical fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires.

In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of residential electrical fires. Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.

Home Appliances

The home appliances most often involved in electrical fires are electric stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and record players.


•1. Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.

•2. Frayed wires can cause fires.

•3. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.

•4. Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.

•5. Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.

•6. When buying electrical appliances look for products which meet the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) standard for safety.

•7. Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.

•8. Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.

•9. If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.

•10. Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets.

•11. Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.

•12. Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Escape Planning

Smoke alarms can only warn of danger. You must then take action to escape. Unless you act quickly and effectively, the extra warning time provided by alarms could be wasted. More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 25,000 are injured. Deaths resulting from failed emergency escapes are particularly avoidable. The best way to assure that your family will do the correct things in an emergency is to have an escape plan and practice it. The important factors in a home fire evacuation plan are:

Immediately leave the home

When a fire occurs, do not waste any time saving property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low, under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. The smoke contains toxic gases which can disorient you or, at worst, overcome you. Call the fire department (Use 911 if available) from a neighbor’s home. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke remember to crawl low under the smoke.

Know two ways out of each room

If the primary way out is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. This might be a window onto an adjacent roof or by using an escape ladder (tested and approved by a recognized testing laboratory). Practices escaping by both the primary and secondary routes to be sure those windows are not stuck and screens can be taken out quickly. Windows and doors with security bars need quick release devices to allow them to be opened quickly in an emergency. Practice escaping in the dark.

Never Open Doors That Are Hot To The Touch

When you come to a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame to make sure that fire is not on the other side. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, open it carefully. Brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.

Have an arranged meeting place

If you all meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk, you will know that everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor’s home to phone the fire department.

Once out, STAY OUT! Never go back into a burning building for any reason. If someone is missing, tell the fire fighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.

Fireplace & Wood Burning Stove Safety

More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.

Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility …Fire Stops With You!

Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

•1. Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.

•2. Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.

•3. Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.

•4. Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.

•5. Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

•6. Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

Safely Burn Fuels

•1. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.

•2. Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.

•3. Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

•4. Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.

•5. When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.

•6. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

•7. Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.

•8. Protect the Outside of Your Home

•9. Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.

•10. Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.

•11. Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.

•12. Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

•13. Protect the Inside of Your Home

•14. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.

•15. Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.

•16. Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.

Gasoline Safety

The following consumer advisory and safety guidelines are provided to help consumers avoid potential problems with refueling, storage and disposal of gasoline. This information was obtained from the American Petroleum Institute (API) web site. Please visit for additional consumer guidelines on gasoline safety.

Refueling Advisory

The API is aware of a few unusual fire incidents involving self-service customers who were refueling their vehicles in cool or cold, dry weather conditions. These incidents may be related to static electricity buildup and discharge. One of many possible causes of static electricity build-up is reentering your vehicle during refueling, particularly in cool or cold and dry climate conditions. This can cause a buildup of static electricity similar to shuffling your feet on carpet when the air in your home is dry. If you return from your vehicle interior to remove the filling nozzle without discharging the static buildup, in rare circumstances, a brief flash fire could occur at the filling point if the static discharges and resulting spark ignites gasoline vapors around the fill spout.

Safety guidelines on vehicle refueling:

•1. Always turn your vehicle engine off while refueling.

•2. Do not get back into your vehicle during refueling — even when using the nozzle’s automatic hold open latch. If you must reenter your vehicle, discharge the static electricity buildup when you get out by touching the outside metal portion of your vehicle, away from the filling point, before attempting to remove the nozzle.

•3. To avoid gasoline spills, do not over fill or top off your vehicle fuel tank. The fuel dispenser will shut off automatically when the tank is full.

•4. Use only the hold-open latch provided on the gasoline pump. Never jam or force the hold-open latch open by using some other object such as the gas cap.

•5. When dispensing gasoline into a portable gasoline can, use only an approved container. Always place the container on the ground and keep the pump nozzle in contact with the container when refueling to avoid a static electricity ignition of fuel vapors. Containers should never be filled inside a vehicle, in the trunk, on the bed of a pickup truck, a flat bed or on the floor of a trailer.

•6. If a flash fire occurs during refueling, the consumer should leave the nozzle in the vehicle fill pipe and back away from the vehicle. Notify the station attendant at once so that all dispensing devices and pumps can be shut off with emergency controls. If the facility is unattended, use the emergency intercom to summon help and the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump.

•7. Safety guidelines on filling containers:

•8. Keep gasoline away from ignition sources like heat, sparks, and flames.

•9. Do not smoke.

•10. Shut off the vehicle’s engine. Disable or turn off any auxiliary sources of ignition such as a camper or trailer heater, cooking units, or pilot lights.

•11. Only store gasoline in containers with approved labels as required by federal or state authorities.

•12. Never store gasoline in glass or unapproved containers.

•13. Portable containers must be placed on the ground, and the nozzle must stay in contact with the container when filling, to prevent buildup and discharge of static electricity. Do not fill a container in or on a vehicle, including in car trunks or truck beds.

•14. Fact Sheet

•15. Fill the container at a slow rate. This will decrease the chance of static ignition buildup and minimize incidents of spillage or splattering.

•16. Manually control the nozzle valve throughout the filling process.

•17. Keep your face away from the nozzle or container opening.

•18. Avoid prolonged breathing of gasoline vapors.

•19. Never siphon gasoline by mouth. Do not put gasoline in your mouth-gasoline can be harmful or fatal if swallowed. If someone swallows gasoline, do not induce vomiting. Contact a doctor immediately.

•20. Keep gasoline away from your eyes and skin, because it may cause irritation.

•21. Use gasoline only in open areas that get plenty of fresh air.

•22. Never use gasoline to wash your hands.

•23. Remove gasoline-soaked clothing immediately.

•24. Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion.

•25. Place cap tightly on the container after filling. Do not use containers that do not seal properly.

•26. If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has evaporated before placing container in your vehicle.

•27. Report spills to the attendant. Use gasoline as a motor fuel only. When transporting gasoline in a portable container make sure the container is secure from tipping and sliding, and never leaves in the direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.

•28. Storage: Store gasoline in an approved container or tank. Gasoline is a flammable liquid and should be stored at room temperature, away from potential heat sources such as the sun, hot water heater, space heater or a furnace, and away for ignition sources. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can travel along the floor to ignition source.

•29. Gasoline disposal: Never dispose of gasoline by pouring it onto the ground or into a sewer, street drain, stream or other waterbed, or putting it into the trash. These actions are environmentally harmful and may result in a fire, explosion, or soil, surface or groundwater contamination. Fines and criminal penalties may be associated with improper disposal. Excess gasoline in good condition can be added to the fuel tank of a gasoline-powered car or truck. See manufacturer’s recommendations. (Don’t dispose of gasoline/oil mixtures for two-stroke cycle engines this way.) However, it is not easy to dispose of gasoline that has deteriorated.