Safety Reminders – Staying Warm and Healthy During Cold Weather

We would like to remind everyone that staying warm in your home without keeping “Safety First” is one of the leading causes of residential fires.  Cold weather also could be unhealthy if you venture outdoors unprepared.

The Penn Twp. Fire Department (PTFD) is reminding everyone that home fires are more prevalent in cold weather than in any other time of the year. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires.  This reminder involves the safe use of space heaters, general heating safety tips, Hypothermia and Frostbite prevention.

Stay Safe

The men and women of the PTFD want to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are especially important during times of cold temperatures.  According to NFPA statistics space heaters account for about one third of the home heating fires yet more than 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths. 
The Winter Residential Building Fires report released by USFA, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss.   Cooking and heating are the top causes of fires during cold weather.

Each winter season, home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm. Stay warm and do so safely.  Safety First ensures everyone goes home.

The PTFD recommend the following safety tips for space heaters.

Electric Space Heaters

  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Heaters are not dryers or tables; don’t dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater.
  • Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater.
  • Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.
  • Turn off at night or whenever you sleep. – – Never use an extension cord with space heaters – plug directly into wall socket.
  • Using a kerosene heater???  Never refuel indoors.  Remove the kerosene heater outdoors, turn off and wait for it to cool down before refueling and only use the correct type of fuel.

General Heating Tips

  • Furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.  Clear away any clutter from these heating devices, at least 3 feet away.
  • Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces, never use ignitable liquids to start a fire and do not overload your appliance.
  • The 3-foot rule also applies to furnaces and fireplaces.  No combustibles items within 3 feet of these heating appliances.
  • Dispose of fireplace ash into a metal container and store outdoors away from structures on a concrete surface.  Fireplace ash can ignite a fire days after they have been discarded.

Finally, ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working by pushing the test button on the front cover.  If you do not hear an audible warning, replace your alarm with a new 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature alarm.  Having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. A working CO detector will protect you and your family from deadly “silent killer” fumes that may be building up in your home.  Remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.  Residents of Penn Township in need of smoke detector can contact our Station 13 at 574-255-2690 or Station 14 at 574-255-5075.  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home free of charge.  For additional information from the USFA on Winter Fire Safety;

Be Prepared for Winter Driving – National Safety Council