The Dangers of Heating Fires and How to Prevent Them

As the colder months approach, it’s tempting to do all you can to heat up your home and banish that cold outside to where it belongs. However, there are some dangers that come along with this. If you haven’t kept up on your HVAC maintenance, then you run the risk of a fire starting.

Dangers of Heating Fires and How to Prevent Them

To help make sure that your home stays safe, here are some key tips on how to prevent heating fires:

The Big Threats

  • Space heaters are one of the most dangerous types of heaters, responsible for over 70% of all winter fires. They use a lot of power, but are plugged into the wall just like any other device, which can lead homeowners to be careless about how they use them. If you are using a space heater, make sure it’s plugged in securely and that there’s nothing flammable around it.
  • Fireplaces can cause fires due to their high burning temperature. Specifically, they shoot out hot embers that can easily ignite any nearby flammables. If you don’t clean out your chimney often, then you increase the risk of a fire.
  • Furnaces are normally fairly safe, but they do run the risk of contributing to gas leaks. They can also poison your house with carbon monoxide, leading to a deadly and unexpected threat if your sensors aren’t working properly.
  • Radiators can overheat and cause serious damage whatever is around them. People can easily get burned, plus they can also ignite any flammables.
  • Kerosene heaters aren’t quite as popular as some other options, but they are no less dangerous. If their fuel hasn’t been set properly, they can explode. Furthermore, their fumes can also turn your house into a deathtrap, which is only made worse by the fact that your home will probably be buttoned up tight to keep heat in.

The Numbers

Year after year, heaters cause over ten thousand fires, more than a hundred deaths, many times that in injuries, and hundreds of millions in property damage. However, that doesn’t mean that heater fires are unavoidable. In fact, the very opposite is true.

Two thirds of heater fires are caused by improper maintenance. If you aren’t keeping your heater clean, then you’re multiplying your risk of fire threefold. Of course, that also means that if you are keeping your heater clean and well-maintained, then your risk is only a third that of people in general.

A quarter of fires are caused by flammables being kept too close to heaters. However, a full half of all heater fire deaths come from combustibles being close. If you keep your heater clear of anything that might catch fire, you’ve already cut your risk of dying down by half.

The Solution

If you want to minimize your chances of a heating fire, then there are some simple steps you can take:

  • Upgrade to a central heating system
  • Regularly test your smoke detectors
  • Clean out your chimney once a year
  • Keep flammables over a yard away from your heaters
  • Make an updated home evacuation plan
  • Only use one heater at a time
  • Turn off heaters when you don’t immediately need them
  • Call in HVAC professionals for regular maintenance
  • Use space heaters with caution