Stay Safe While Staying Warm This Winter

By Liz Taurasi

As the temperatures drop, it’s important to remember how to be safe when keeping your home warm in the winter months.

Home heating is the second leading cause of home fires in Massachusetts, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, which reminds everyone to Keep Warm, Keep safe this winter.

There are several things to do to stay safe while staying warm, according to the state fire marshal:

Get Your Chimneys and Furnaces Checked - Furnaces and chimneys should be checked by a professional every year before the start of the heating season. A well-running furnace will be more efficient, reducing heating costs, and prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t be tempted to skimp on preventive maintenance. Fuel assistance programs can help homeowners with maintenance and repair costs.

Have a Wood, Pellet or Coal StoveAll require a permit from the local building inspector to ensure they are installed safely and properly. There are regulations on installation that you can find in the State Building Code regulations. And always dispose of ashes safely in a metal ash can with a lid and keep it outside the home or garage away from porches or decks. In 2012, there were 811 fires involving chimneys, fireplaces, and wood stoves.

Give Your Space Heater Some Space - Space heaters can provide a little extra warmth in a cold or drafty corner or shop, but are not designed to replace household heating systems. According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, one of every 20 space heater fires results in a fire death. Keep them three feet away from things that can catch fire such as furniture, newspapers, and bedding. Turn them off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Many space heater fires are caused by using the wrong extension cord, so match the wattage of the heater to the cord. Better yet, avoid using one if possible. There were 63 space heater fires reported between 2008 and 2012, and while they are not frequent, they are deadly. One of every 20 space heater fires causes a fatality.

Unvented Kerosene Heaters Illegal in Massachusetts -Unvented kerosene heaters are illegal in Massachusetts because they are so dangerous, but if you shop in neighboring states they may be for sale legally. Be safe and leave them out of state. They pose not only a fire risk, but also produce carbon monoxide.


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