Heating Your Home Safely

With days getting
shorter and temperatures getting cooler, it’s the time of year when many people
turn up the heat in their homes. It’s also the time of year when the
number of home fires goes up, which are often caused from using alternative
heating methods.

The Red Cross has steps you can follow to get your home ready for cooler
weather and remain safe:
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.

  • Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house and that they
    have fresh batteries.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering the inside
    of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in
    the home.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit to
    have ready when winter storms hit. The kit should include a three-day
    supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or
    hand-crank radio and extra batteries.
  • Spread sand, rock salt or kitty
    litter on walkways and steps to make them less slippery.


half of the households in this country use alternative heating sources such as
space heaters, fireplaces, or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. Fixed and portable
space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of
fire-related deaths.
Red Cross recommends you look for a model that shuts off automatically if the
heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and
nonflammable surface in your home. Other safety tips include:
  • Keep
    all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs
    at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Never leave portable
    heaters and fireplaces unattended. Turn off space heaters
    and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed
    or leaving home.
  • Keep
    children and pets away from space heaters.

more heating safety and winter storm tips, download the free Red Cross
Emergency App at redcross.org/apps.

with fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross is
installing smoke alarms in homes in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and
teaching residents about fire prevention and preparedness. The Red Cross is
calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: create and
practice their home fire escape plan and check their smoke alarms to be sure
they are working properly.  To learn more
about the campaign and home fire safety, please visit redcross.org/homefires.