Carelessness can make heating equipment dangerous

With biting cold temperatures hitting New Hampshire, homeowners may be looking for creative ways to fight the cold. As you dim the lights and cozy up to your portable heater, the Insurance Center would like to suggest some precautions that homeowners should consider for a safe and toasty winter.

“Family members that are looking to stay warm sometimes make bad judgement calls that anyone can commit, it doesn’t matter if that individual is a child or a seasoned veteran that has braved countless winters,” said Robert J. Sammon, president of the Insurance Center. “What agencies and organizations have learned over the years is that most of the fires that occur in these months are preventable.”

Heating equipment is listed as the leading cause of home heating fires in the winter months, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fire officials nationwide say that companies that manufacture space heaters and other heating equipment have made strides in their products’ safety features, but that many accidents could’ve been avoided if people were more vigilant.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of home heating to help your family stay warm and, most importantly, safe this winter.

The do’s of staying warm

  • Do consider buying a rug to trap heat, especially on upper floors. Since heat rises, you can capitalize on escaping heat with a rug because it holds on to heat better than hardwood floors.
  • Open any curtains to let the sun rays into your home, and consider purchasing thermal curtains to trap escaping heat.
  • Ensure that all heating devices are turned off or unplugged before going to bed.
  • Encourage children to play several feet away from any heating equipment.
  • Consider hiring a contractor to install fiberglass insulation in the attic, and possibly in your walls. Insulation is designed to prevent heat from escaping through hard surfaces, but it should also keep your home cool during the summer months.
  • Consider moving the sofa away from the space heater because it may be absorbing heat, instead of letting warm air circulate throughout your living room.

The don’ts of home heating

  • Do not warm your home by turning on the oven, and leaving the door open. This has led to accidental fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Space heaters should not be placed within three feet of combustible materials such as towels, blankets, or clothes.
  • Avoid using heating equipment that appears to have cords that are damaged.
  • Cease the use of equipment when the device or cords are hot to the touch.
  • Do not plug in heating equipment to extension cords, which are not designed to pass through the amount of electricity heaters require.

Across the United States between 2009-2013, the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association found that heating equipment fires led to $1 billion in property damages and hundreds of lives lost. Another alarming finding was that in home fires that were caused by heating equipment, space heaters accounted for 84 percent of fatalities that occurred.

Although technology is improving, The Insurance Center won’t rest until all home fires can be prevented. Your partner in protecting your family, Insurance Center agents are available to discuss insurance packages that protect your loved ones from catastrophic loss.