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Heating Appliance and Winter Safety

Space Heater turned on with the words Heating Safety

There is something about the winter months and curling up with a good book by the fireplace. It is during this time of year, as the nights begin to get cold that is not uncommon for heater and furnace-related fire incidents to occur.  But did you know that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths?

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Often occupants think a furnace has been turned off because they have adjusted the thermostat to the lowest setting.  This does not turn the furnace off; rather the furnace is set to a low-temperature setting. When the temperature gets cold, the furnace activates. 

Your firefighters remind you to be cautious when using any type of heating appliance and to recognize the features of thermostat-controlled furnaces. 

Here are some safety tips that apply to all types of heating appliances: 

Dog lying next to a floor heater
Includes image of a wall furnace
  • Do not place floor coverings, clothing, or furniture over floor furnaces.
  • Move combustibles away from floor and wall furnaces. This includes furniture.
  • Have your furnace cleaned and serviced to ensure safe and efficient operation.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace or heater; if the wall is hot to the touch or discolored, discontinue use immediately, and have the appliance checked.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet (one meter) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • If you heat with wood, move combustibles at least 36” away from the stove or fireplace. Again, this applies to furniture as well.
  • Have a three-foot (one meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container.  Place them outside and well away from the house or other buildings.
  • Have your stove pipe, chimney, or flue cleaned and inspected prior to use and annually.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
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The Arcata Fire Protection District would like to avoid furnace, heater, and woodstove fires this year and in the future by reminding our communities of these steps to help make the use of such appliances safe. With these simple safety tips and precautions, you can prevent most heating fires from happening, and stay warm and safe this winter

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