Here are some tips from the National Fire Protection Association (nfpa.org) to help keep you and your loved ones safe:
* Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from heating equipment, such as a furnace, fireplace, woodstove, or space heater.
* Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and heaters.
* Never use your oven to heat your home.
* Do not use extension cords or multiple sockets to connect the heaters. Heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet.
* Have heating appliances and chimneys cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
* Remember to turn off portable heaters when you leave the bedroom or go to bed.
* Always use the correct type of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-fired space heaters.
* Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying around the room. The ashes must be cold before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance from your home.
* Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater (mercaptan is the sulfurous “rotten egg” smell added to natural gas), do not turn on the heater. Leave the house immediately and dial 911.
* Test smoke alarms at least once a month.