Spokane Fire Department: Heat your home safely

Michele Anderson, Public Safety Communications Manager

Friday, November 30, 2018 at 12:21 p.m.

Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths and injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires.

“As we head into December and our snow season, we want residents to make sure their fresh air intake and exhaust pipes are free of snow and shrubs,” says Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “A blocked exhaust vent or appliance vent, such as a dryer vent, could result in carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s important for everyone to check their vents frequently during periods of heavy or blowing snow.”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is called the “invisible killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the U.S. die every year from accidental CO poisoning from generators or fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fire places.

The Spokane Fire Department stresses the importance of having functioning carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of increasing CO levels. These alarms should be placed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. If the alarm goes off, or you think you may have CO in your home, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.

Other important fire safety tips to remember include:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Have furnaces and hot water heater professionally checked every year.
  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.