(WBNG) — It may be cozy to crank up the heat or start the fireplace during the colder months, but it can be dangerous if you’re not cautious. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports more than half of home heating fires occur in December, January, and February.
According to the Broome County Fire Coordinator’s Office, there’s been 25 house fires this heating season, with eight of them starting in a chimney. Officials said one leading cause of winter fires come from not disposing fireplace ashes properly.
“What happens is there might be a hot ember in there and you’ll shovel it into a can or a receptacle and it gets insulated by all the other ashes and starts to heat up again,” Alan Gardiner, Binghamton Fire Marshal, said.
Gardiner said to dispose of ashes properly, put them in a sealed, metal can, at least 10 feet away from your home.
Gardiner also warns against candles during the winter months.
“They need to be properly contained. If they’re open candles, they need to be a minimum of 12 inches from anything that it could burn,” Gardiner said.
Other fire dangers come from heat sources, like a fireplace or a furnace.
“Common things we see is combustibles too close to heat sources, you know like a fireplace or a portable heater and they have to be a minimum of three feet away from those heat sources,” Gardiner said.
Gardiner said the main cause of fire during the winter months, starts in your kitchen.
“A common cause, it’s always cooking,” Gardiner said.
Here are some tips from officials to prevent a fire in your home:
- Plug only one heat-producing source into an outlet at a time
- Have your chimney inspected by a professional every year
- Check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources
- Store ashes in a covered metal container, 10 feet away from the home
- Have a fire extinguisher readily available at all times