Jackson Township Spotlight: Use extra caution with all home heating sources

Shawn Quincel
Jackson Township Fire Department

Now that winter is around the corner and the temperature is beginning to drop, this would be an excellent time to talk about fire-safety concerns when heating your home. Throughout the United States, the second-leading cause of house fires comes from heating devices.

There are many ways to heat your residence, and each has specific safety guidelines. Following these simple safety guidelines can significantly reduce the chance of a fire in your home.

Shawn Quincel

The majority of homes are heated from either natural gas or an electric furnace unit. These units should be inspected annually to ensure they are working correctly. Keeping the area clean around your furnace also will minimize the risk of fire. Gas furnaces are great if you would like a more cost-efficient and even heating system; however, they come with their own set of unique safety issues. Gas furnaces have a risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning if they are not functioning correctly, but having a CO detector installed can help you stay safe.

Traditional fireplaces and woodstoves also are popular options when it comes to heating your home. Many people like the ambiance that a wood-burning fire provides but might overlook many of the safety concerns associated with it. If you have a fireplace in your home, it should be inspected annually and cleaned by a licensed chimney-sweep company. Other safety items include keeping a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out and starting a fire; burning only dry, cured wood; and extinguishing the fire completely before you go to sleep or leave your home.

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Other devices, such as portable space heaters, are common in most homes. These heaters help increase the temperature in various areas within the house. Keeping portable heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that could easily catch fire, such as furniture, curtains, laundry and clothes, significantly will reduce fire risk. Additionally, these units should have auto-shutoff safety features.

Plugging portable space heaters directly into wall outlets – not an extension cord or power strip – is recommended. A power strip is not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater. This added energy flow could overheat the strip and potentially cause a fire. 

Jackson Township Fire Department personnel have additional home fire safety information and are available to answer any safety questions you might have. Please feel free to call the fire administration office at 614-875-5588 for further assistance.

As always, we appreciate the community's continued support and wish you and your family a safe holiday season.

Shawn Quincel is the Jackson Township deputy fire chief.