SPRINGFIELD – The Office of The Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is raising awareness about winter fire risks, especially with the use of space heaters and fire places as alternative sources to heat homes. Nearly half of all home heating related fires occur between the months of December and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“This is very dangerous time for fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. During this rough winter it is imperative to remind the public of the proper use of space heaters and other ways to stay warm,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Although space heaters provide heating, they could also bring major safety concerns if adequate safety precautions are not followed.”
In Illinois in 2012, 67 home fires were caused by alternative heaters and 67 other fires were linked to chimneys and fireplaces. The OSFM recommends giving heating equipment three feet of space between the device and anything that can burn, including people. It is also important to make sure there is adequate overhead clearance for space heaters..
The OSFM also reminds residents about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by many furnaces, fireplaces and kerosene space heaters. It is important to keep all systems and fireplaces well maintained and clean. If a kerosene space heater is used, make sure it is vented to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Illinois Carbon Monoxide Detector Act (430 IL CS135) requires that every dwelling unit shall be equipped with at least one approved carbon monoxide alarm in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. Every structure that contains more than one dwelling unit shall contain at least one approved carbon monoxide alarm in operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. Working smoke alarms must be placed at a maximum of 15 feet from sleeping quarters, at least one on each level (including basements).
Remember the following regarding when using space heaters/fireplaces:
• All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as furniture, bedding, paper or other flammable items.
• Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters. Pets should also be kept away from them.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
• When using electric space heaters, make sure they are UL rated.
• Plug space heaters directly into the wall outlet, not to extension cords.
• If kerosene space heaters are used, look for UL rated labels. Make sure the heater is vented to avoid carbon monoxide problems.
• Turn off space heaters when you leave a room or go to bed.
• Wood burning fireplaces should only be used by adults.
• Wood fireplaces should always be kept clean to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or smoke inhalation.
• Light the fireplace using a utility lighter or long match.
These are reminders, we have done this before. Be smart and fire safe. For more information on fire safety please visit OSFM website www.sfm.illinois.gov or www.nfpa.org/safetytips.