Winter Safety

Fire Safe Home This Winter

Kerosene Heaters

Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon build-up. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over. Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal or propane, for example) produces deadly fumes. Use only the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. Never introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel. Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house. NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Use caution with cold fuel for it may expand in the tank as it warms up. Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors). Keep young children safely away from space heaters - especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited. When using a fuel-burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Wood Stoves and Fire Places

Be sure the stove or fire place is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces, and proper floor support and protection. Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed. Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time. Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire. Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fire place opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants. The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup. Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire. Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide. Keep flammable materials away from your mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials. Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fire.

place. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house. If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.


Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition. Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified. Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required. Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak. Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry. Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Other Fire Safety Tips

Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house. Never use a range or an oven as a supplementary heating devise. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes. If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load. Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water. Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing. If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended. If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the Fire Department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located. Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis. Contact your local Fire Department for advice if your have a question on home fire safety.

If You are Traveling This Holiday - Plan Ahead

  • Prepare Yourself and Your Vehicle
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions.
  • Keep your car in top operating condition and full of gasoline.
  • Travel by daylight and use major highways and roads.
  • Plan your trip selecting primary and alternate routes.
  • Always let a friend or family member know your plan.
  • Travel with another person or by convoy with another vehicle.
  • If Your Car Breaks Down
  • Turn on the flashers and raise the car hood.
  • Stay with the car and wait for help to arrive.
  • Avoid Traveling in Severe Weather - But If You Must...
  • Carry A Winter Storm Car Kit That includes:
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Winter clothing including wool caps, mittens and overshoes
  • Non-perishable, high-calorie foods such as canned nuts or dried fruits
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Small sack of sand
  • Shovel
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Battery booster cables

If a Winter Storm Traps You in Your Vehicle

Stay in the vehicle - do not try to walk to safety. Avoid overexertion and exposure, although do exercise from time to time. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna and raise it high for rescuers to see. Keep a downwind window slightly open for fresh air. Do not allow the window to become sealed with snow or freezing rain.