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Fire risk rises as temperature drops

City Press Releases, Fire News

November 9, 2018

Pittsburg Fire Department shares home heating safety tips

PITTSBURG, KS – The cold weather has finally arrived, which means residents will be turning up their thermostats and using home heating devices to stay warm.

During the cold-weather months, it is especially important to make sure homes are heated safely. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), half of home heating fires occur in the months of December, January and February.

To help keep residents safe this season, the Pittsburg Fire Department is sharing some essential home heating safety tips.

Portable space heaters

Many people turn to portable space heaters to stay warm. However, along with their convenience and portability, space heaters can also bring fire hazards to clothing, furniture, curtains and other household items. As reported by the NFPA, portable space heaters figure in two of every five home heating fires (40 percent).

  • Keep all combustibles three feet away from space heaters and make sure they have an automatic shut-off switch
  • Turn off portable heaters before leaving the room or going to sleep
  • Plug space heaters directly into an electrical outlet – do not use an extension cord or a power strip
  • Plug only one space heater into an electrical outlet at one time
  • Use the fuel specified by the manufacturer for fuel-burning space heaters
  • Use space heaters with an automatic shut-off feature
  • Keep children at least three feet away from portable space heaters

Fireplaces and wood stoves

While fireplaces and wood stoves can offer warmth and comfort, they also pose a fire risk. According to NFPA, fireplaces or chimneys cause one in three home heating fires.

  • Install wood stoves according to manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional complete the installation
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from your fireplace or wood stove
  • Establish a three-foot “kid-free zone” around any open fires
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Screens should be metal or heat-tempered glass
  • Dispose of ashes in a covered metal container, make sure ashes have completely cooled before putting them in the container and keep the container ten feet away from your home and nearby structures

Prevent frozen pipes

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing
  • Let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes
  • Keep thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night
  • If leaving your home for an extended period, keep the heat on in your home and set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees

If pipes freeze

  • Keep your faucet open as you treat the frozen pipe – running water through the pipe helps melt the ice
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using a heating pad or towels soaked in hot water
  • If using an electric hair dryer or portable space heater to thaw pipes, keep away from flammable materials and never leave space heaters unattended
  • Never use an open flame device (blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove) to thaw frozen pipes
  • If you are unable to thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber

Additional fire safety tips

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month to make sure they are in working order
  • Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month
  • Never use an oven to heat your home
  • Establish a home evacuation plan

For questions regarding fire safety and prevention, contact the Pittsburg Fire Department at (620) 231-1870.