Des Moines, IOWA – The Iowa Department of Public Safety reminds Iowans heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths during the winter months. Almost half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Some simple steps can prevent most heating-related fires from happening.

Safety Tips

• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater.

• Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

• Never use your oven for heating.

• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.

• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

• For fuel burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.

• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.

• If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and windows. Call a gas service person.

• Test smoke alarms at least monthly.