Fire/Carbon Monoxide Risks During Cold Weather

Cold temperatures may prompt families to turn to drastic measures to heat their homes. Even traditional alternative heating sources, such as a fireplace or space heaters can be dangerous if not used properly. As temperatures drop in your community, some simple tips can help keep families safer.

Winter months in particular are the peak time for house fires and carbon monoxide poisonings, with most incidents due to improperly ventilated or malfunctioning heating sources. Families can better protect themselves by having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of the home and in sleeping areas. In addition, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and experts at Kidde recommend the following heating safety tips:

Carbon Monoxide Prevention

  • Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
  • Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window.
  • Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected by a licensed professional annually.
  • Have a licensed professional inspect heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances annually.
  • Have qualified professionals install fuel-burning appliances and operate according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Do not use unvented gas or kerosene space heaters in enclosed spaces. Keep doors open to the rest of the house to help promote proper ventilation.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool to avert the buildup of carbon monoxide, especially at night while families sleep.
  • Do not run a fuel-powered engine, such as a vehicle or generator, inside the home or in an attached garage or carport. CO fumes can seep into the home through air intake valves, baseboards, doors and windows.

Fire Prevention

  • Ensure that space heaters meet the latest safety standards, which would include having an automatic cut-off device and protective guarding around the heating coils and burners.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, and keep them at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or before going to sleep. Keep children and pets away.
  • Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors could explode. Keep all flammable materials away.