DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contact:
January 29, 2010 Kristin Milam
Johanna Royo
Winter Storm Threat a Reminder to Follow Safety Tips
Half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin urges North Carolina families to follow these safety tips to stay safe during and after the upcoming winter storm.
"Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. I want to remind the citizens of North Carolina to be extra cautious during this weather event," said Commissioner Goodwin.
General Heating Safety Tips
  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
  • Never bring in a charcoal or gas grill or other fuel-burning equipment inside to heat your home, they can produce carbon monoxide.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
Fuel Burning Space Heaters
  • Always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.
  • When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside or in a well-ventilated area.
  • When using the heater, open a window to ensure adequate venting.
Wood-burning Stoves and Fireplaces
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
  • Use artificial logs according to manufacturer's recommendations.
In 2006, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 64,100 reported U.S. home structure fires. This translates to 540 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $943 million in direct property damage. Space heathers, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third of the home heating fires and three-fourths of the deaths from home heating fires in 2006.
Carbon Monoxide Dangers
Often called a silent killer, CO is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels, such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane, burn incompletely. During a power outage, we often see in increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2005, municipal fire departments nationwide responded to an estimated 61,100 carbon monoxide incidents. January and December were the peak months for CO incidents and the peak time of day was between 6 and 10 p.m.
Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips and Facts
  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home so when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • Early symptoms of CO poisoning are nausea, headache and flu-like symptoms. Prolonged exposure can lead to brain damage and even death.
Above statistics provided by the National Fire Protection Association
-- OSFM --