Stay warm and fire safe this winter |

Stay warm and fire safe this winter

Provided to the Tribune

During the cold winter months, many people use wood-burning or portable appliances for heating their homes and so it’s important to remind ourselves of some simple heating safety tips during the winter months.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter months. “Most of these fires are preventable” says Fire Chief Mike Brown of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District (NLTFPD). “We can reduce the number of home heating fires in our community by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly.”

NFPA recommends some simple home heating safety tips, so folks can help keep our community safe and warm this winter.

• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

• Have a three foot ‘kid-free zone’ around open fires and space heaters.

• Never use your oven to heat your home.

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• Have a qualified professional install stationary space 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.

• 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.

Portable electric space heaters:

• Please turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

• Use only and purchase portable space heaters with an auto shut off so if they’re tipped over they will shut off.

• Place space heater on a solid, flat surface at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn.

Fuel-burning space heaters:

• When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside.

• If the pilot light of your gas heater goes out, allow 5 minutes or more for the gas to go away before trying again, do not allow gas to accumulate, and light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot to avoid risk of flashback.

• To avoid a buildup of carbon monoxide, never use portable, un-vented space heaters in an enclosed building.

Wood and pellet-burning stoves:

• Wood stoves should bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

• In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.

• Please keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the fire.

Last but certainly not least, install smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Test smoke detectors monthly. Also install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

– Provided by the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, 775-831-0351 or go to