Remember home heating safety as forecast calls for cold

December 26, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 26, 2010

Temperatures in Issaquah reach freezing and below in the week ahead, and the state fire marshal has reminded residents about the safety of fireplaces, space heaters and wood stoves.

Residents often turn to the alternative heating sources as the mercury falls, and especially due to the high cost of home heating. But the sources also rank as a leading cause of residential fires.

State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy said residents should take steps to reduce the risk of fires in the home.

“Having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire,” he said in a statement.  “And remember to practice your home escape plan frequently with your family.”

The fire marshal offers the following safety tips to Evergreen State residents:

  • Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. The state fire marshal said wood stoves should have adequate clearance  — 3 feet — from combustible surfaces, plus proper floor support and protection. Chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned, if necessary.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks in and unwanted material out. Keep flammable or combustible materials away from the fireplace mantel.
  • Never close the damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. Instead, allow ashes to cool and dispose of all ashes in a metal container.
  • Ensure the space heater is in good  condition. Inspect for cracked, frayed or broken plugs, or loose connections and exhaust parts, for carbon buildup. Ensure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the unit tips.
  • Like the name implies, space heaters need space. Keep all flammable items — such as paper, bedding or furniture — at least 3 feet from heating equipment.
  • Never use fuel-burning appliances without proper room venting, because burning fuel can produce deadly fumes. Use only the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer.
  • Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into extension cords.
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