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Home Heating & Fireplace Safety Tips

No matter what type of device you use to heat your home, making sure your heating devices and/or systems are in good working order is an important part of learning some fall fire safety tips. Many things can go wrong with heating equipment during the spring and summer months. Verify that everything you need to keep your home warm throughout fall and winter is in good working order before you experience the first cold snap of the season.

Central Heating System Safety Tips
- Get your central heating system cleaned, inspected and serviced by a certified HVAC (heating, venting and air conditioning) contractor every year before using it.
- If you have a gas heater, make sure that you have a sufficient quantity of fully functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.

Space Heater Safety Tips

- Make sure that any space heaters are surrounded by at least three feet of empty space.
- Never place clothing or any other objects on a space heater to dry.
- Do not place space heaters near furniture or drapery.
- Turn space heaters off when you leave the house or go to bed.
- Avoid storing any combustible items near heaters.

Fireplace Safety Tips

What could be better than curling up in front of the fireplace or woodstove on a cold winter's night? What could be worse than burning your house down because you didn't properly dispose of the ashes!
Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage occurs and dozens of families are displaced because of fires in their homes that are caused by the improper disposal of fireplace ashes. Fireplace and wood-stove ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days after a fire.

It is important to learn the following ways to dispose of fireplace and wood-stove ashes properly:
1. Do not discard your ashes into any combustible container like a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box, or a plastic trash can.
2. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
3. When you want to stop a fire from burning, do not add any additional wood to the fireplace. This will allow the fire to cease on its own accord. When a fire is ceasing, leave it alone and do not remove any ashes that accumulate until they have cooled when a gray color prevails in the ashes and when heat does not emanate from the ashes. The cooling process for ashes should take between 10-15 hours. Once the ashes have cooled, use a metal scoop and bucket to remove them from the fireplace. Using metal objects is another safety precaution in case there are any hot ashes
remaining in the fireplace that you did not notice. After ashes have cooled in a metal container, it is necessary to find a suitable disposal site. Never dump fireplace ashes until they have had at least four days to cool.
4. If you are not sure whether all the ashes in the bucket have cooled completely, you can also add some water to the bucket to douse any remaining hot spots.
5. Do not ever store the ashes inside your house or garage. Keep them at least six (6) feet away from anything that burns including your deck or house. These ashes can smolder for hours and possibly days after they may appear to be out; and, in addition to the danger of an unintentional fire, they can emit deadly fumes.
6. When the ashes have been disposed of properly, clean and sweep out your fireplace. It is ready to be used another time.

Valley Center Fire Protection District has responded to numerous potential major fires due to the improper disposal of ashes over the past few years.

More Fireplace Safety Tips
- Get your chimney inspected each year to make sure that it is safe.
- Hire a chimney sweep to clean out your chimney every fall.
- Repair any cracks in fireplaces.
- Use fireplace screens to keep sparks and fire debris inside the fireplace.
- Do not every use gasoline to start a fire in the fireplace.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Make sure that combustible materials are not stored within three feet of your fireplace.
- For natural gas fireplaces, get all connections and lines inspected before use each season.
- Remember that outdoor fireplaces can be just as dangerous as indoor units, and observe all safety precautions when using them.
- It is important to learn the following ways to dispose of fireplace and wood-stove ashes properly: Click to View More Fireplace and Wood Stove safety tips.

Gas & Propane Fireplaces
Gas and propane fireplace maintenance should be done by a trained professional from your gas or utility company. Here is a list of the items they will check and test for proper operation. It is advised you have your gas or propane fireplace inspected and cleaned annually.
- Check fan operation
- Clean pilot and burners
- Check gas pilot safety system
- Check thermostat
- Check for proper ignition and combustion
- Check venting and chimney draw, where accessible
- Check for proper ventilation air
- Paint fire box, if required
- Clean glass
- Inspect door gasket
- Clean equipment exterior







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