Let's be frank for a moment, everyone turns on the heat in the winter. We add on layers, put our thermostats up a few degrees and even bring out our space heaters. At this time of years, heaters and other heat sources are often the cause of devastating home fires. So what can you do to keep your home safe and warm? Read on for a few tips...


- All heating systems, especially furnaces and other boilers, should be checked annually and adjusted and repaired if necessary.

- Ensure space heaters have a safety label (with the letters ETL, UL or CSA) and that they are at least 3 feet from anything that could burn.

- In rooms where there's a risk of burns or heater-related accidents supervise children and pets and place screens around open fires and hot surfaces.

- Only burn seasoned hardwood in fireplaces and stoves. No trash! The US Fire Administration has a great series of videos at http://tinyurl.com/USFA-safe.

- If you have a chimney or flue used by your heating system, have it checked - and cleaned if necessary.

- Never warm or dry clothes or any fabric near open flames or where they might burn.

- Turn space heating systems off and extinguish open fires before going to bed.

- Have at least one smoke and carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home. If they're already installed, check batteries and test them.

- If you plan to use kerosene heating, again check for that UL label mentioned above, ensure it's legal to burn kerosene in your area and, please, only use clear K-1 kerosene, never gasoline.

- Make sure you have a fire escape safety plan, just in case the worst happens.


If you're curious about more fire safety resources, visit the US Government's main fire safety resource at http://tinyurl.com/firesafety-gov. Stay warm this winter - and more importantly be smart about it!