OPELIKA, Ala (WRBL) – During the coldest months of the year, Opelika Fire Department officials are warning residents to take safety precautions in and around the home while using heating equipment.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Nearly half (48%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January, and February.
The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (54%) was heating equipment too close to combustible items, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress or bedding.
Local fire departments responded to an average of 52,050 fires involving heating equipment each year from 2012 to 2016. These fires resulted in annual losses of 490 civilian deaths, 1,400 civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage. With a few simple safety precautions, you can keep your family safe and prevent most heating fires from happening:
- Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install space heating equipment to assure it is following local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the fuel specified by the manufacturer for fuel-burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather tells News 3 it’s been a busy winter fire season for the department as they’ve responded to several structure fires.
Chief Prather is urging families to do their part to protect their families and property.