(WBNG) - This week, the Fireman's Association of the State of New York revealed in an official press release that heating is a leading cause of fires in the United States, and New York leads the nation in deaths by fires in 2019.
So far this year, 112 people have died in a fire-related incident across the state, causing officials to look at what's causing these deaths.
The village of Endicott Fire Department chief Joseph Griswold cited a lack of maintenance for heating equipment as a major issue.
"One of the biggest problems is a lack of maintenance," Griswold said. "Not changing the filters, they're very dirty. You don't get good air exchange, plus you have a lot of dust, dirt and debris inside the furnace."
Failure to keep up with heating appliances can create havoc when you need heat most.
"If things aren't properly maintained, you're going to have issues, and again you're going to have issues with heating appliances during the months they're being used."
Johnson City Fire Department captain Bob Blakeslee, who also serves as the fire prevention officer, believes those deaths can be directly connected to smoke detectors.
"I think a lot of it with the fire deaths the lack of smoke detectors," Blakeslee said. "A lot of [deaths] come from larger cities where you've got a lot of people packed into dilapidated buildings. Check your smoke detectors monthly."
The National Fire Prevention Protection Association said in the release half of heating fires occur during the months of December, January and February, which means earlier in the year is better for your heating check-up.
"People should, late summer, early fall, get their heating appliances serviced to make sure they are clean and ready to go," Griswold said.
Blakeslee echoing a similar sentiment.
"The biggest thing is making sure you have someone qualified to come in and service it every year."
So this winter, think before you act.
"Check out your heating system and make sure you head off any problems before you actually fire the thing up and get it running while it's cold."
Here is a list of safety tips recommended by the FASNY and NFPA:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- 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.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- 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 flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.