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Be cautious during home heating season

Winter cold brings heating equipment fires

11/23/2007 - FRANKFORT— Winter is on its way to Kentucky and with the cold weather, residents are turning to various sources of heat to stave off the chill.

State Fire Marshal Rodney Raby notes that National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics show that heating equipment is the leading cause of fires in December, January and February.

"As energy prices rise, more and more people are supplementing their main heating systems with portable heaters, fireplaces, stoves and similar devices," Raby said. "While supplemental heat can be very useful, it is very important to exercise caution in using such equipment."

In 2003, the most recent year available, heating equipment accounted for more than 50,000 house fires in the United States, resulting in 260 deaths.

"We don't want anyone in Kentucky to become a fire statistic, so we want to pass along several common sense suggestions from the NFPA," Raby said. They include:

• Have your furnace, fireplace or stove inspected by a professional every heating season.

• When buying a new electric space heater, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory and that you install it according to manufacturer directions.

• Plug the heater into an outlet with sufficient capacity and never use an extension cord.

• Maintain three feet of clearance between the heater and anything that can burn.

• Turn off the heater whenever a room is not occupied or when you are sleeping.

• Use only seasoned wood in your fireplace and use a sturdy screen to prevent flying sparks.

• Make sure any fuel-burning device is properly vented to the outside.

• Install smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector.

More tips regarding portable heating equipment may be found at NFPA's Web site,

The State Fire Marshal's staff is part of the Department of Public Protection in the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.

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