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Remember winter weather heating

Catherine Breault

January’s winter weather hit Woodinville hard and the season isn’t over. The Pacific Northwest tends to experience snowy and chilly weather well into March. The colder temperatures mean increased use of home heating equipment. Woodinville Fire & Rescue has some simple safety tips and precautions to help you heat your home safely this winter.

December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) space heaters are responsible for 40% of winter weather fires. Remember to keep anything that can burn at least three feet from heating equipment, such as furnaces, wood stoves, or portable heaters. Always turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. Heating equipment fires accounted for 15% of all reported home fires in the United States from 2012-2016 (second behind cooking) and 19% of home fire deaths.

According to a 2018 NFPA report, the leading factor contributing to home heating fires was the failure to clean solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. The best way to prevent a chimney fire is to have an annual inspection by a certified chimney sweep. In addition to an inspection, 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 from your home.

Lastly, it’s important to install and maintain carbon monoxide, also known as CO, alarms in your home. CO alarms should be in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 150 people in the United States die every year from accidental non-fire-related CO poisoning associated with items like generators, water heaters, stoves, and fireplaces. 

As the season continues, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other winter debris. Always use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from doors and windows. Never heat your home with an oven or cooking equipment.

Together we can have a safe and warm winter season!

—Catherine Breault

PIO Woodinville 

Fire & Rescue

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