Cold winter nights are felt even in the southernmost areas of California and using a heater during the coolest months of the year is common all across the state. However, homeowners and apartment dwellers must ensure that any type of heating device used, whether it’s an old-fashioned fireplace, a space heater, or a central heating system, is used responsibly and with smart fire and safety habits in mind.

Regular Maintenance of Systems

One of the easiest ways to create a fire danger in the home is to use old heating devices that haven’t seen cleaning or maintenance in several years. Unfortunately, it’s very common for homeowners to use seasonal items like heaters without properly maintaining them because it doesn’t seem as though the devices are used that often.

A homeowner that uses old space heaters or portable heaters that are past their prime should have the best home security system, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed, in case the device starts to smoke and catch fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that portable heating equipment and heaters inside homes are one of the most common causes of home fires each year.

Remember to schedule cleaning or maintenance for the following heating devices if they are installed in the home:

  • Central heating equipment
  • Portable space heaters
  • Water heaters
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

Clean Heaters are Safe Heaters

According to the NFPA, 50 percent of all home heating fires occur between December and February each year. At least a third of those fires are caused by improperly functioning space heaters. Additionally, the primary reason those fires occur is because of the dangerous buildup of contaminants and dirt that caused the heater to erupt in flame.

Likewise, when a fireplace is used regularly, it’s natural for the buildup of creosote to occur, which may cause a normal fire to burn at an incredibly high temperature, greatly increasing the danger of fire. Reducing the rate of creosote buildup is easy by ensuring that the fire always has ample oxygen with which to burn. Additionally, a yearly visit from a chimney sweep or cleaner will keep the fireplace safe.

Smoke Detectors Save Lives

Another essential feature of a safely heated winter is the installation of smoke detectors that work. Too often safety is compromised when a homeowner installs alarms around the home to detect fire and forgets to replace the batteries. Most cities require installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all residences; however, many homeowners install those devices and assume they’ll always work.

Fire safety experts recommend changing the batteries at least once a year and testing the devices on a monthly basis. Our recommendation is to replace the batteries for your smoke detectors each New Year’s day. Easy to remember and you have the day off anyway. The best home security system will alert homeowners immediately when a fire starts in a home, but not if the smoke detectors aren’t functioning. A simple battery could mean the difference between a family’s successful escape from tragedy while trapped under the weight of heavy smoke from a burning home.

Home heating devices are generally safe when they are used correctly and properly maintained. When the colder months of the year roll around, and the family starts to use space heaters, fireplaces, and central heating systems, make sure that some attention is paid to maintenance and function so as to lower the possibility of fire.

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