Winter Heating Safety

Warming Up For The Winter ~ Winter Heating Safety

Winter is on its way, and the temperatures will be dropping.  Many of us will turning to turning on the heat, supplementing our heating with space heaters, maybe even enjoying the evening in front of a fireplace. Unfortunately, the winter months are the leading time of year for home fires.  Space heaters too close to combustible materials, poor maintenance of fireplaces that can lead to chimney fires, or carelessness with household candles.

By following a few simple rules of winter heating safety you can ensure that your home and those living in it stay safe and warm throughout the winter.

According to U.S. Fire Administration heating was the second leading cause of home fires following cooking.  Home heating fires peaked in the early evening hours between 5 and 9 p.m. with the highest peak between 6 and 8 p.m.  This 4-hour period accounted for 30 percent of all home heating fires. Confined fires, those fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners, accounted for 87 percent of home heating fires. Thirty percent of the nonconfined home heating fires occurred because the heat source was too close to things that can burn.

So how can we stay safe and warm this winter? 

winter heating safetyHere are some great home heating tips from the Red Cross.  Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.

Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.  Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.  If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.  Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.  Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.  Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.


I don’t know about you, but I do love candles.  I love the looks, and smell that a lit candle provides.  However they can cause home fires.  Here
are winter heating safetysome great tips from the National Fire Protection Association regarding candles. 

Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.  Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.  Think about using flameless candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.  If you do burn candles, make sure that you… Use candleholders that are sturdy, and will not tip over easily.  Put candleholders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.  Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.  Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.  Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.  Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

Fireplace Safety Tips

winter heating safetyHouselogic has 9 Tips for Safety and Efficiency of Wood Fireplaces.

  1. Only burn dry, cured wood — logs that have been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months. Cover your log pile on top, but leave the sides open for air flow. Hardwoods such as hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple, and white ash burn longest, though dry firewood is more important than the species. Less dense woods like spruce or white pine burn well if sufficiently dry, but you’ll need to add more wood to your fire more often, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
  2. Burn firewood and only firewood! Crates, lumber, construction scraps, painted wood, or other treated wood releases chemicals into your home, compromising air quality.  Log starters are fine for getting your wood fireplace going, but they burn very hot; generally only use one at a time.
  3. Close the damper when not using your wood fireplace to prevent warm indoor air — and the dollars you’re spending to heat it — from rushing up the chimney.
  4. Keep bifold glass doors open when burning a fire to allow heat to get into the room. On a factory-built, prefab wood fireplace with a circulating fan, keep doors closed to prevent unnecessary heat loss.
  5. Have a chimney cap installed to prevent objects, rain, and snow from falling into your chimney, and to reduce downdrafts.  Caps have side vents so smoke escapes.  A chimney sweep usually provides and can install a stainless steel cap, which is better than a galvanized metal one because it won’t rust. Caps cost $50 to $200.
  6.  Replace a poorly sealing damper to prevent heat loss.  A top-mounted damper that also functions as a rain cap provides a tighter closure than a traditional damper for your wood fireplace.
  7.  Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your house — near your wood fireplace as well as in bedroom areas.
  8.  Get your chimney cleaned twice a year if you burn more than three cords of wood annually. A cord is 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or the amount that would fill two full-size pickup trucks.
  9.  To burn a fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats. Keep the damper of your wood fireplace completely open to increase draw in the early stages. Burn the fire hot, at least occasionally—with the damper all the way open to help prevent smoke from lingering in the fireplace and creosote from developing.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “Invisible Killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in thewinter heating safetyUnites States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces. Source  Consumer Product Safety Commission

Protect your family from Carbon Monoxide Poisons with these safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  •  Have your home heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.
  • Never use portable generators inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open. Use generators outside only, far away from the home.
  • Never bring a charcoal grill into the house for heating or cooking. Do not barbeque in the garage.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool.  An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup in your home outside separate sleeping areas.
  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect CO poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately, and then call 911.


SCS Safety Health & Security Associates LLC works with businesses to help keep their employees safe, lower workers compensation and fleet / auto insurance policy premiums.  In addition, they help to get a company safety compliant by conducting job site safety inspections, developing written safety programs, and conducting safety meetings.   In addition, they offer OSHA 10 and 30 hr. courses, for the construction industry.  If your employees need CPR/AED, Basic First Aid, and or Bloodborne Pathogen certification, they can handle that too.  Check out their monthly CPR/AED and Basic First Aid Classes in the Leesburg VA area.

What is the benefit of having SCS Safety Health & Security Associates work with your company to increase safety?  We bring over 20 years of experience in safety.  We prefer to build a relationship with our clients, so that they come to us as a resource.  Hiring SCS Safety Health & Security Associates does not require the overhead, salary, or benefits that may be required with traditional employment.