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Heating your home safely during cold weather months

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) is reminding people to be safe when heating their homes or apartments this winter.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — With single-digit temperatures forecast for the Western New York area this week, many folks will be looking for ways to stay warm. 

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) is reminding people to be safe when heating their homes or apartments this winter.

They say fire departments see a rise in home fires during the winter months due to home heating equipment fires, as well as carbon monoxide poisonings.

“There is an increased risk of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning this time of year as residents use space heaters, portable heating sources, gas furnaces, and fireplaces to heat their homes,” said FASNY President Edward Tase, Jr. in a release. “We encourage New Yorkers to take proper precautions when they heat their homes this season.”

The National Fire Prevention Association says heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. 

They say space heaters are often involved in home heating fires.

Tase says homeowners should keep their space heaters a safe distance from curtains, bedding and upholstered furniture. 

“Homeowners should check that all heating equipment is functioning properly and that furnace and dryer vents are clear of ice and other debris,” said President Tase. “As we turn up the heat, it is crucial to ensure that there are working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of the home and outside of sleeping areas. These devices can be the difference between life and death. We want all New Yorkers to be fire-safe this winter and remember— if there is a fire: get out, stay out, and call 911.”

In New York state, all space heaters must have a thermostat, automatic shut off and be certified and then approved by the US Dept. of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Here are some more home heating tips from FASNY and the NFPA:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

For more information: 

National Fire Prevention Association
Firefighters Association of the State of New York

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