Heating Systems Safety


Cold winter weather brings snowball battles, cozy evenings, and an increase in the use of home heating equipment. It's probably time to give your heating system a safety check. Heating equipment failures or malfunctions are one of the leading causes of all home fires. We can reduce the occurrence of these types of fires with a little preventative maintenance and some good fire safety habits.

The following are some tips for safety around heating systems:

  1. Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a covered metal container outside and well away from the house.
  2. If you use a wood-burning stove or fireplace, have a licensed chimney sweep clean and inspect your chimney at least once a year.
  3. Place a glass or metal spark screen in front of the fireplace and install caps on chimneys.
  4. Never use a flammable liquid (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, etc.) to start a fire or rekindle a small one.
  5. Keep paper, clothing, trash, and other combustibles at least three feet away from your furnace, hot water heater, or wood-burning device.
  6. Have a professional clean and check your heating system yearly. This may prevent a fire and will make your heating system more energy efficient.
  7. Keep portable heaters away from curtains, beds, clothes, and children. Make sure there is at least three feet of clearance around the heater for proper ventilation. Turn heaters off when you leave the room or go to bed.
  8. Never refuel the heater while it is operating or while it is still hot. Always refuel outside. Avoid overfilling.
  9. Be sure your space heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.

Public Affairs and Life Safety Education Section
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
4100 Chain Bridge Road Fairfax, VA 22030
703-246-3801 or TTY 711

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