As the cooler temperatures migrate across our region, as does the concern for home heating safety.
Already this year, your East Meadow Volunteer Fire Department has responded to heating system emergencies that resulted in oil burner fires, and the ensuing carbon monoxide exposure.
The Chiefs, Officers, and members of the East Meadow Fire Department urge our residents to take steps each year to ensure the safety of your loved ones.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths in the USA with half of all home heating equipment fires reported during the months of December, January, and February.
Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.
- Keep anything that can burn at least five feet away from heating equipment. Such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Never leave a space heater on unattended.
- Have a five-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Finish any exposed wood ceiling above your heating system with sheet rock of at least a 10′ x 10′ area, if your boiler room is unfinished.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check all wiring and cords for damage and/or loose connections.
- Have your heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Never store flammables (Paints, Aerosols, Gasoline, etc) in any room that has your heating system.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from reaching the carpet or other combustibles.
- Ensure fireplace ashes are completely cool before disposal in a metal container, AND keep that container away from your home, porch, or any other combustible structure.
- Know the capacity of your electrical outlets… Many heaters or today’s electric fireplaces may draw more energy than the standard outlet. This could cause a fire particularly if the breaker fails.
- Have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and test each at least once a month. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on installation and locations.
- In the event of a heating system emergency, turn off your emergency switch, all occupants must exit the home, call the East Meadow Fire Department hotline at 516-542-0576, and prepare to inform first arriving units, of the fire’s location if known.
The safety list above represents the many warnings of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), as well as the many experiences of your volunteers here in East Meadow.
In closing, we remind you that many of these warnings will also protect our East Meadow volunteers since your actions will likely turn what could have been a large fire, into a smaller fire handled with less risk.
Below grade fires (Cellars, Basements) where heating systems are commonly located, are the undisputed most dangerous type of home fire your firefighters will respond to….
Help make your home safe this year, not just for your family, but also for the men and women who will respond to your home in a moment’s notice.
Photo caption: John EMFD responded to this oil burner emergency a few years back. Note the carbon deposits in all ledges.
PHOTOS & STORY: J. O’Brien Sr