(BLOOMINGTON, IN) - With colder temperatures approaching, Mayor Mark Kruzan and the City of Bloomington Fire Department are encouraging residents to use caution when operating heating equipment in their homes.
According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, heating equipment was responsible for an estimated 613 structure fires in Indiana in 2008, with 10% of those occurring in the home.
"We want residents to stay warm and be safe, and one of the most important things you can do this winter is stick to the guidelines laid out by the State," said Kruzan.
The following are the precautionary steps laid out by the State Fire Marshal that residents can take when heating their homes:
- Space heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn, such as draperies, blankets, clothing, bedding, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- When buying a new space heater, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory and is legal for use in your community.
- Turn off space heaters whenever the room they are in is unoccupied or under circumstances when manufacturer's instructions say they should be turned off. Portable space heaters are so easy to knock over in the dark that they should be turned off when you go to bed.
- Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
- Use the proper grade of fuel for your liquid-fueled space heater, and never use gasoline in any heater not approved for gasoline use. Refuel only in a well-ventilated area and when the equipment is cool.
- Use only dry, seasoned wood in a fireplace or wood stove to avoid the build-up of creosote, an oily deposit that easily catches fire and accounts for most chimney fires and the largest share of home heating fires. Use only paper or kindling wood, not a flammable liquid, to start the fire. Do not use artificial logs in wood stoves.
- Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room. Allow fireplace and woodstove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from your home.
- Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a metal container.
- Make sure fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, that the venting is kept clear and unobstructed, and that the exit point is properly sealed around the vent. These steps are to make sure deadly carbon monoxide does not build up in the home.
- Be sure to inspect all heating equipment annually, and clean as necessary.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- Test smoke alarms daily.
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