State Fire Marshal Reminds Tennesseans to Heat Homes Safely
NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak wants to remind Tennesseans to be cautious in the use of alternate heat sources.
"The colder weather means many people will begin to heat their homes with fireplaces, woodstoves and space heaters," said McPeak. "Cold weather months typically have a higher number of accidental fire injuries and deaths due to the use of these alternate heat sources.”
Heating equipment is a major cause of home fire devastation. According to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System, over the last five years Tennessee fire departments responded to 3,078 home structure fires that involved heating equipment. These fires caused 38 civilian fire deaths, 46 civilian fire injuries and $31 million in direct property damage. Heating equipment fires accounted for 8% of all reported home fires (second behind cooking) and 9% of home fire deaths.
Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces and woodstoves. Never burn garbage or use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- If the pilot light of your gas heater goes out, allow 5 minutes or more for the gas to go away before trying to relight the pilot. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when relighting the pilot. Do not allow gas to accumulate, and light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot to avoid risk of flashback.
Don’t forget to install smoke alarms on every level of your home and to test them monthly. Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in your home. The plan should include two ways out of every room and a designated meeting place outside where everyone can be accounted for.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.