Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires in North America. But during winter, it is the leading cause according to the National Fire Protection Association. To avoid home-heating fires, remember these rules:
Portable heaters fueled by gas, kerosene, wood or coal: All heaters must be at least 36 inches away from anything that can burn. Never leave them on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep. And never dry clothing on a heater.
Kerosene heaters: Use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. (Never use gasoline!) When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool before adding fuel. Wipe up spills promptly. Store kerosene away from heat or open flame in an approved container.
Fireplaces: Have the chimney inspected prior to the start of the heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote builds up in chimneys and causes chimney fires. Always use a sturdy screen when the fireplace is in use. Remember to burn only wood. (Never burn paper or pine boughs.) And never use flammable liquids in a fireplace.
Wood stoves: Be sure the stove meets local fire codes and is properly installed and maintained. Chimney connections should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as for space heaters. Burn only wood, and ensure the stove has approved stove boards below it and behind it to protect floors and walls.