Fireplace & Generator Safety Tips
Due to Recent House Fires
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Meridian Township EMS/Fire Chief Fred Cowper recently reported that four house fires occurred in Meridian Township on Christmas Eve leaving one home devastated. All incidents were related to improper use of a fireplace or generator.
“A lot of fireplaces aren't designed to heat your home, especially for a long period of time,” said Mark Hornberger, Meridian Township’s Fire Inspector. “Residents need to research their heating equipment and know its limitations.”
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Almost half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. NFPA offers these offers these safety tips when heating your home:
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater.
• Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Never use your oven for heating.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• For fuel burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.
• For wood burning stoves, install chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
• Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.
• If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and windows. Call a gas service person.
• Test smoke alarms at least monthly.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the misuse of wood stoves, portable space heaters and kerosene heaters are especially common risks of fires in rural areas. An estimated 900 portable heater fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss.
Fire Inspector Hornberger also says it is important to have an escape plan just in case something happens and you need to get out of your home. The NFPA reports that while 71% of Americans have an escape plan, only 47% of those have practiced it.