HFD: Stay Safe When Using Heaters, Fireplace

With another winter-style cold snap coming, the Houston Fire Department urges citizens to be careful and follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters, fireplaces and other supplemental heating sources.

"Any shift away from the exclusive use of central heating presents an increased possibility for fire," says the HFD.

The HFD says people should always keep in mind that "space heaters need space." It offers these safety tips when using supplemental heating sources:

--Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.

--Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater. Children can knock over space heaters, especially if they are placed on top of wobbly tables or stools and near where the children play. Children may also stick paper or toys in the grates of the space heaters especially gas space heaters.

--Keep all combustible materials -- and yourself -- at least three feet away from the heater.

--Open-face heaters should have a screen.

--Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Also, here are tips for electric heaters:

--Never overload outlets or breakers. Don't use extension cords for the heater.

--If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it.

--Electric heaters permanently installed in the wall or ceiling should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and dust will burn.

Here are fireplace safety tips from the National Fire Prevention Association:

--Creosote -- a sticky, oily, combustible substance created when wood does not burn completely -- rises into the chimney as a liquid and deposits on the chimney walls, and plays a role in 23 percent of all home heating fires each year.

--Just like a space heater, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace.

--Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires.

--Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.

--Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present.

--Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, and kept at a safe distance from your home.

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