By Chief Gary Lohr for The Island Connection
The winter months are upon us and many of us spend time indoors, curled up by a fireplace or space heater, reading a book or watching television. The St. Johns Fire District wants to remind you that heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths and half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. There are several steps you can take to help prevent most heating-related fires from happening.
• 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.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central 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.
• Test smoke alarms monthly.
Follow these simple steps to keep you and your family safe during the cold winter months. If you would like more information about heater safety, smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, or to have a home safety survey conducted in your home then please contact the St. Johns Fire District at 843.559.9194.