For Immediate Release: October 30, 2012
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin Wants Families to Stay Warm, Stay Safe
Cooler weather introduces increased risk of home heating fires and toxic gas poisoning
RALEIGH -- With a winter storm warning in effect in western North Carolina, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin is urging people to defend themselves against home heating fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
"As the temperatures drop and we face the potential for power outages, families must remember to make safety the top priority when heating their homes," said Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin. "With increased use of heating equipment comes an increase in the risks of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning."
According to the National Fire Protection Association, use of heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. Heating equipment is involved in roughly one in five home fires and fire deaths.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is invisible, odorless and colorless. It is created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Families should heed the following safety reminders to help prevent home heating fires and carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- Have your chimney inspected each year by a qualified professional and cleaned if necessary. Use a sturdy fireplace screen.
- Wood stoves should bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory. In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
- Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home — when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
- When using a fuel-burning portable heater, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer. When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside.
- Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- 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.
- A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors and away from windows, doors and vent openings.
- Gas or charcoal grills can produce carbon monoxide — only use them outside.
For more safety tips that will keep you safe and warm in the cool weather months, go to www.nfpa.org.