How to heat your home safely


Temperatures are starting to drop and people are turning on their heating if they live in parts of the country where the weather is colder. The American Red Cross is urging families to heat their homes safely to help prevent household fires, which typically increase in the colder months.

A Red Cross survey showed that more than half of us have used a space heater, which is involved in most fatal home heating fires. It is essential to keep at least three feet of space around all heating equipment and to never leave radiators unattended. Follow these additional tips:

  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a flat, hard, nonflammable surface, such as ceramic tile flooring. Do not place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and curtains. And keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Plug heater power cords directly into outlets, never an extension cord. Turn it off whenever you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave a fire burning in fireplaces unattended. Make sure the embers in the fireplace are extinguished before you go to bed or leave the house. Use a glass or metal screen to keep embers in the firebox.
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.


To help protect your family year-round, test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes – the time you might have to get out of a burning house before it’s too late.

Visit for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family.

You can also download the free Red Cross emergency app by searching “American Red Cross” in app stores.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Firefighting Campaign, with the help of community partners, has saved at least 1,414 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans, and installing more than 2.6 million free smoke alarms in high-risk homes across the country.


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