The weather’s getting chillier, and many Hoosiers are staying indoors trying to stay warm. With high heating costs, many are also trying alternative sources of home heating, which, if used carelessly, can contribute to residential fires.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, winter residential building fires result in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 million in property loss each year. Fires in one- and two-family dwellings account for 67 percent of all winter residential building fires, and cooking is the leading cause of all winter residential building fires.
For those using kerosene heaters, be sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area; be sure your heater is in good working condition; inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup; be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over. Never use fuel burning appliances without proper
room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
Use only the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type of fuel. Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
For wood stoves and fireplaces, be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly with adequate clearance. Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be laboratory tested. Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time. Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire. Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants. The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15–30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.