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Winter Safety Tips

Fire risk rises as temperature drops

Winter safety tips from the Pittsburg Fire Department


During the winter months, it’s especially important to make sure homes are heated safely. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), half of home heating fires occur during the months of December, January and February. Reduce winter fire hazards with the following safety tips:

Portable space heaters

Many people turn to portable space heaters to stay warm. Along with their convenience and portability, however, 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).

  • 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 power strip.
  • Plug only one space heater into an electrical outlet at one time.
  • Use the right kind of 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

Who doesn’t love curling up next to a crackling fire? While fireplaces and wood stoves can offer warmth and comfort, they also pose a fire safety 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. Keep the container ten feet away from your home and nearby structures.
Frozen pipes

Always treat frozen pipes with fire safety in mind.

To 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.

The City of Pittsburg remains committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our citizens by providing fire and emergency services, educational resources and programs. By working together, we can prevent fires before they happen.

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