As State Fire Commissioner, I want to remind Pennsylvanians to be smart about how they heat their homes in the winter and be prepared to deal with emergencies with the help of resources available through ReadyPA.org.
As a result of the national economic downturn, many people are looking for cheaper ways to stay warm. However, the improper use of alternative heating sources can be deadly. On average, 175 Pennsylvanians die in house fires each year – many of which could have been prevented.
To keep you and your family safe, consider these tips:
1. Never use an oven, range or grill as a heating device.
2. Install carbon monoxide detectors to warn of any buildup of this deadly, odorless gas in your home.
3. Keep all heating devices at least three feet away from everything else.
4. Kerosene heaters should never be filled while hot and inside your home, and avoid overfilling the unit.
5. When using an electric heater, never use an extension cord, never hang items to dry above it and never leave it unattended.
6. Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that burns.
7. Make an escape plan that shows two ways out of every room and have everyone practice it.
8. Test your smoke alarm monthly and replace the battery twice yearly.
9. Inspect and clean your chimney before each heating season.
10. Never burn plastics, garbage or treated wood in a fireplace or woodstove.
I encourage you to take time now to prepare for other emergency threats, including winter storms. In addition to developing an evacuation plan for your home, you should have an emergency supply kit at home, as well as a to-go kit and a roadside emergency kit for your vehicle. Complete checklists for each of these kits and more winter heating safety tips are available online.
Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner