There is nothing like a nor’easter, or two, in March to keep home heating a priority.

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) reports that fires sparked by home heating equipment account 43 percent of all home heating blazes, and tragically, 85 percent of home heating fire deaths.

Heating equipment is responsible for 15 percent of all home structure fires and millions of dollars in property damage.  Heating equipment is defined as not just space heaters or portable heaters, but also stationary heaters, fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and central (whole house) heating systems and hot water heaters.

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The majority of home heating fires take place in December, January and February, but as long as you are using heating equipment to warm your home there is a potential risk of fire.

“There are many simple steps you can take to help avoid fire, but one of the best ways to help protect your home and family is to install a fire sprinkler system,” said Dave Kurasz, Executive Director of New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB). “Fire sprinklers can detect and extinguish flames quickly, reducing property damage and saving lives by providing more time to safety escape. Many times, fire sprinklers can suppress the fire faster than the time it takes for fire department to respond.”

As you try to keep warm until the late spring thaw – thank you groundhog – keep in mind the following safety tips to reduce the chance of fire breaking out in your home.

Space heaters
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room, going to bed, or leaving the home.
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters
• Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from ALL heating equipment.
• Always place a space heater on solid, flat surface.
• Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
• Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. If damaged make sure to replace before using.

Stationary Heaters
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys annually by a qualified professional.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container a safe distance from your home.

General Safety Tips
• Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
• Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a detector to your home.
• Never use your oven to heat your home.

To learn more about the benefits of fire sprinklers click here for a fact sheet or visit SaveandProtect.org or https://nfsa.org/benefits-fire-sprinklers/. For more home fire safety tips visit: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Top-causes-of-fire/Heating