Heating malfunction, electrical failure and lack of maintenance are major contributing factors in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The loss of life and property resulting from heating fires can be prevented by being able to identify potential hazards and following the safety tips contained in this section.
- Cold weather means many residents will turn on heating systems that have not been used since the previous spring.
- Before turning on that heating system, check it for proper operation and safety. A family member can do this, but remember to read and follow all instructions carefully.
- Manufacturer’s instructions are usually located on the inside door cover near the pilot light.
- If the instructions cannot be found or there are questions about what should be done, call a professional service person or someone qualified to ensure the job is done correctly.
- Filters should be changed at the beginning of the season and then checked monthly to make sure they are not clogged or blocking air flow.
- Most furnace fires begin in the cold hours before dawn when the furnace must work the hardest and people are sleeping most heavily.
- Wall heaters should be checked for proper ignition and ventilation. Soot or black marks on the wall can mean that the burner jets are dirty or not adjusted to burn the fuel properly. This means higher amounts of carbon monoxide are being created.
- Without ventilation to the outside, carbon monoxide fumes accumulate inside the home. A flushed face or a slight headache can be the first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. If this happens, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's phone.
- Space heaters need at least three feet of space between the heater and combustibles like drapes, furniture and beds.
- Make sure small children cannot get near space heaters. Touching them can cause skin burns.
- As with any electrical appliance, check the cord to make sure it is not frayed or worn.
- Extension cords should not be used with electric space heaters and should only be used temporarily with any electrical appliance.
- Electric space heaters are dangerous in the bathroom because of cramped space and radiated heat as well as the danger of electrocution from falling in a tub or sink.
- Never touch an electric space heater with wet hands when in contact with water.
- Never leave a space heater on when sleeping or when the house is vacant.
- The City of Carlsbad Fire Department does not recommend the use of kerosene heaters in homes.
- If a kerosene heater is used, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Use only the manufacturer's approved fuel. Store the fuel outside the house and always let the heater cool before filling it outside the home.
- Kerosene heaters must have adequate ventilation because they use up oxygen inside a room as they operate.
Charcoal briquettes and barbecues
- Charcoal briquettes and barbecues never should be used for cooking or heating inside the home or any other enclosed area. They can quickly fill a closed space with deadly carbon monoxide fumes.