Prepare Now to Use Central Heating Systems Safely

information released by State Fire Marshal

The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends taking some time now to prepare for colder weather.  Here are a few tips to keep your heating system running safely and efficiently:

  • Furnaces should be inspected, cleaned, and serviced every year by a qualified, licensed professional to ensure safe and reliable operation.
  • Keep any flammable materials at least 3 feet away from the furnace to reduce the risk of ignition.
  • If the pilot light of your gas furnace goes out, allow 5 minutes or more for the gas to clear. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for relighting the pilot.
  • If you smell gas in or around your gas furnace that does not dissipate, do not try to relight it.  Evacuate and call 9-1-1.
  • Keep exterior venting clear of snow, ice, and other debris to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide accumulation inside the home.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms inside your home to alert you to fire danger.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms inside your home to alert you in case of carbon monoxide accumulation.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan.

It’s also a good time to prepare for the use of fireplaces and wood stoves.

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), heating is the second leading cause of home fires. Take some time now to prepare for the colder season with a few tips to keep your fireplace or wood stove running efficiently and safely:

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned each year by a professional.
  • Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire.  Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood.  It is cleaner for the environment and creates less creosote buildup in the chimney.
  • Keep flammable items, such as stacked wood, blankets, or other decorations, at least three feet away from the fireplace or wood stove.  This includes items hanging down from a hearth above.
  • Keep the doors of your wood stove closed or a metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent embers from jumping out.

For more information, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (360) 596-3929.