Cooler Temperatures and Heating Your Home

The Boone County Fire Protection District reminds residents of the hidden fire hazards and dangers present when the weather turns cold. As the temperatures drop outside, methods used for heating our homes can spell disaster unless some basic fire safety steps are remembered and followed.

One of the biggest causes of cold weather related fires involve chimney or flue fires. These fires occur when creosote builds up inside the chimney and ignites. If you use your fireplace or wood-burning stove on a regular basis throughout the year, then that flue and chimney need a regular cleaning. A chimney fire in an old or damaged flue can result in the fire being forced out of the chimney by the pressure created during the fire. Heat and flames will push through loose metal pipe seams and old mortar spreading the fire into the attic.  If in doubt about whether your flue needs a cleaning, contact a trained chimney sweep.

Portable heating appliances such as space and kerosene floor heaters should be used only if they have a “limiting switch” that will turn off the heat if the heating unit is knocked over. This will prevent the heating element from continuing to burn and catching the floor on fire. Also remember to keep portable heating appliances away from furniture, curtains and bedding and turn them off when you leave the house. Also keep pets away from the heater.

Check on the elderly in your neighborhood or apartment complex. Make sure they are warm and accounted for. Also, check on those who may have had the electricity in their homes turned off and are forced to heat with candles, fireplace or burners from the gas stove.

Finally, every home should have a working smoke detector installed on every living level of the house. A working smoke detector will provide the early warning needed to escape if a fire breaks out in your home.