Fire Marshal Reminds Residents Of Safe Heating Habits As Temperatures Turn Colder

Temperatures this week will be the first real cold snap for the High Country since April. Many residents will be firing up wood stoves and other heating methods as low temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s tonight, 40s for Friday night, lower 30s on Saturday night and around 30 on Sunday night.

WataugaOnline.com reached out to Taylor Marsh, Watauga County Fire Marshal, for his recommendations to area residents as they begin using heating sources more frequently.

Marsh said, “There are a couple of things that I would like to emphasize with the cold weather.  First I would say that if you burn wood in your home to have your chimneys inspected and cleaned before using it this winter.  Creosote builds up on the inside of chimneys and flues and if not cleaned, can lead to a chimney fire.  Also have the chimney sweep check the condition of the flue.  A small crack in a flue can allow for embers to escape also leading to a chimney fire.”

Marsh also added, Secondly, if you use a fuel burning appliance, always make sure it is installed and vented properly.  Improperly vented fuel burning appliances can lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.  Remember that carbon monoxide is called the silent killer as it has no smell, taste, or color.  If you have a fuel burning appliance in your home make sure carbon monoxide detectors are also present.”

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA, a nonprofit organization established in 1896, offers these simple steps that can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • 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. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.