Keep Warm, Keep Safe This Winter
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan and all the members of the Massachusetts fire service are concerned that the winter months will lead to an increase in fires from heating. Heating is the second leading cause of home fires in Massachusetts. It is important to Keep Warm, Keep Safe this winter.
Chimneys and Furnaces Need an Annual Check-Up
Furnaces and chimneys should be checked by a professional every year before the start of the heating season. A well-running furnace will be more efficient, reducing heating costs, and prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t be tempted to skimp on preventive maintenance. Fuel assistance programs can help homeowners with maintenance and repair costs.
Wood, pellet and coal stoves require a permit from the local building inspector to ensure they are installed safely and properly. The State Building Code has regulations on installing solid-fueled appliances. Dispose of ashes safely in a metal ash can with a lid and keep it outside the home or garage away from porches or decks.
Space Heaters Need Space
Space heaters can provide a little extra warmth in a cold or drafty corner or shop, but are not designed to replace household heating systems. One of every 20 space heater fires results in a fire death. Keep them three feet away from things that can catch fire such as furniture, newspapers, and bedding. Turn them off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Many space heater fires are caused by using the wrong extension cord, so match the wattage of the heater to the cord. Better yet, avoid using one if possible.
Unvented Kerosene Heaters Illegal in MA
Unvented kerosene heaters are illegal in Massachusetts because they are so dangerous, but if you shop in neighboring states they may be for sale legally. Be safe and leave them out of state. They pose not only a fire risk, but also produce carbon monoxide .
Fire Safety Basics
Be Sure to Cover the fire safety basics:
Fuel Assistance Programs
The following places have information on heating assistance programs, the laws on shutting off utilities in the winter months and helpful consumer information.
National Fire Protection Association
Keeping Your Community Safe and Warm A tool kit for fire educators to help promote heating safety in their own community. It contains: talking points, easy-to-read and reproduce flyers, sample press releases and letters to the editor, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), statistics on home heating fires and information on national fuel assistance programs.
U.S. Fire Administration
The U.S. Fire Administration has information on home heating fires and preventing them. They have statistical studies and public education resources about home heating safety on their website. Be aware that the use of unvented kerosene heaters is illegal in Massachusetts because of the danger of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
For more information contact your local fire department or call the Public Fire Safety Education Hotline at 1-877-9 NO- FIRE (1-877-966-3473).