Winter Weather Increases Heating-Related Fires

An individual cooking a Thanksgiving Day turkey Homeowners Asked to be Safe with Heating Equipment

Sacramento - Winter is here!  The days are shorter, the outside temperature is lower, and in some places, it’s cold, icy and snowy.  No matter where you live, winter brings a change in weather and a time to think about home-heating safety.  Improper use or poorly maintained heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires and home fire deaths across the country.  In fact, half of all home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. 

“The cooler weather means an increase in usage of space heaters, fireplaces and other heating devices,” said State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal. “Sadly, when not used safely, heaters and fireplaces can often lead to fires, injuries and deaths that could have easily been prevented.”

With a few simple safety tips and precautions, you can prevent most heating fires from happening.

CAL FIRE offers the following fire safety tips:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment such as a furnace, fireplace, woodstove or portable space heater.
  • Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Always turn portable heaters off when leaving a room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from escaping.
  • Allow fireplace ashes to completely cool before disposing of them. Place in a tightly covered metal container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. NEVER empty fireplace or woodstove ashes directly into a trash can.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • If using fossil fuel heating, install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. Make sure your home has working smoke alarms as well.

For more information on safe home heating visit the CAL FIRE website at




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