Take caution when heating the home, urges Scottsdale Fire

The Scottsdale Fire Department celebrates 10 years of service this July. (Photo courtesy of SFD)

(Photo courtesy of SFD)

The Scottsdale Fire Department is offering tips on how residents can keep their home safe from fire and other harmful conditions when trying to stay warm during the winter temperatures.

The leading months for home fires and home fire deaths in the United States are December, January and February. On average, more than a third of home fire deaths in the United States occur during the winter months.

Critical elements of home heating safety have to do with correct installation, maintenance, fueling and operation of portable and space heaters, as well as safely arranging household items around them.

Major causes of home heating fires include:

  • Lack of regular cleaning of chimneys in fireplaces and woodstoves.
  • Placing things that can burn too close to space and portable heaters.
  • Flaws in design, installation or use.
  • Fueling errors involving liquid, or gas-fueled heaters.
  • Leaving portable or space heaters unattended.

This week, Arizona has been among the coldest places in the country, according to a press release.  Make sure you are keeping warm safely by following these tips.

Prevent home heating equipment fires:

  • When purchasing equipment, select ones that have the mark of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Install and maintain heating equipment correctly.
  • Make sure the equipment complies with local fire and building codes.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a heating device.

Portable and other space heaters:

  • All types must be kept at least 36 inches from anything that can burn, including furniture, bedding, clothing, pets and people.
  • Space heaters must not be left operating when you are not in the room, or when you go to sleep.
  • Children should be supervised at all times when space heaters are in use.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

About 230 people die each year from CO poisoning related to fuel burning household appliances, such as furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, clothes dryers, kitchen ranges, wood stoves and fireplaces, the release stated.

Each year, approximately 25 people die and hundreds more suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning when they burn charcoal in enclosed areas such as their homes – in a bedroom or living room for heat or cooking. Some also burn charcoal in campers or vans, or in tents.

When inhaled, the tasteless, odorless gas is easily absorbed into the blood. Carbon monoxide is lethal when it replaces the amount of oxygen needed to sustain heart and brain function.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and nausea, are often dismissed as a “touch of the flu,” even by doctors.


  • Never use a vented-type heater without proper venting and flue (chimney).
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper size heater and for its installation, maintenance and use. Have it professionally installed, if possible.
  • Have your heater installation checked by the local fire marshal, building inspector, or gas company before lighting.
  • Never use a heater that is in disrepair. Always keep your heater in proper operating condition.
  • Turn off the heater if the burner flame looks strange, i.e., yellow flames, unsteady flames, or smoky flames.

For more safety tips, visit www.ScottsdaleFD.com.

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