Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Cutting corners for winter heat could cost your life
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 3, 2007) – With winter upon us, firefighters, building code enforcement officials and other public safety experts are warning about the use of alternative heat sources such as wood-burning stoves, space heaters, oil burning heaters and fireplaces.
The Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction (OHBC), which includes the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Division of Fire Prevention and the Division of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, offers Kentuckians safety tips for heating homes this winter.
In the event of winter storm damage that knocks out electrical power, have a plan and course of action to ensure the safety of your family and all occupants of your home. Avoid makeshift heating, which can be dangerous – even life-threatening.
Operating a kitchen oven with the door propped open is extremely hazardous, especially with a gas appliance. If the flame goes out, gas continues to flow, creating a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The OHBC, including all the agencies mentioned above, offer the following safety checklist:
Burning fuels safely
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or other debris in your fireplace or woodstove.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside the house.
Protecting the inside of your home
- Never use a charcoal grill for indoor heating or cooking. It produces carbon monoxide, which can be lethal.
- Be aware of burning candles. Never leave candles unattended, even for a short time. If you leave the room, extinguish all candles.
- Have your heating system inspected, serviced and maintained by a licensed HVAC contractor.
- Ensure and provide proper venting for all heating equipment.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated.
- Keep the fireplace damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Change batteries once a year.
- Maintain at least a 36-inch clearance between space heaters and anything that can burn.
Protecting the outside of your home
- Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away form the house.
- Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
- Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
- Remove any branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.
Keep fireplaces and woodstoves clean
- Have your chimney or woodstove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
- Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
- Keep air inlets on woodstoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces.
- Be aware of creosote buildup. It could lead to a chimney fire.
- Only use fire-resistant materials on walls around woodstoves.
The OHBC is an agency within the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. Additional information can be found on the Web at www.ohbc.ky.gov.