Winter heating safety tips

We’re experiencing the first severe cold snap of the year and many folks will begin to rely on multiple types of heating sources to stay warm. In response, local fire officials have provided some safety tips. 

Use properly sized fire place screens or enclosures. Don’t use extension cords with portable space heaters.

When disposing of ashes, make sure they’ve cooled and use a metal container. Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in you home.

Always turn off portable heating equipment. Fire officials say this all may seem obvious, yet every year people still forget.

DCSFM Joseph Flanagan with the state fire marshal’s office says, “Using manufactured recommendations on the appliances, using common sense and just some basic safety when using those appliances. Make sure that the appliances have had a laboratory testing on them like a UL label or something like that.”

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office released an extended list of winter heating safety that you can read below.


·        Make sure fuel burning stoves are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

·        Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.

·        Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure the appliance is clean and placed on a flat level surface.  Use only “listed” appliances by an approved testing laboratory and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

·        Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters.  The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire.

·        If you use kerosene fuel fired heaters, use only “K-1” kerosene fuel.  Never fill the unit inside, remove it to the exterior of the structure after it has cooled before refueling.  Note: Portable kerosene heaters are banned for use in Baltimore City.

·        Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation.

·        Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.), at least (3′) three feet from all heat sources.  Combustibles placed to close can ignite quite easily.                                                                                                                           

·        Fuel burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide.  Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide levels.

·        Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods.  Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.

·        Place safety barriers around the device to keep children and pets away from the heat source. 

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