While it hasn't been a brutally cold winter thus far, it’s been cool enough to raise concerns about home heating. Fires can have devastating consequences, but they can be prevented by avoiding some common mistakes.
“We don’t want to have to come to your house,” Firefighters Association of the State of New York John D’Alessandro said.
Across the country, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.
“The temperature drops quickly in Upstate New York,” D’Alessandro said. “People start using these rapidly, and using them often.”
Space heaters play a considerable role in the alarming stats, accounting for two of every five fires.
“You know, the things we own today can easily catch fire if a portable space heater were knocked over,” D’Alessandro explained. “They get very hot, very quickly.”
In an effort to curb the risks associated with space heaters, Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed new legislation that requires space heaters sold in New York to have a thermostat, an automatic shut off and certification.
“Make sure it’s a reputable brand,” D’Alessandro said. “Make sure it has an Underwriters Laboratories, or some other significant testing laboratory stamp of approval on it.”
Beyond space heaters, there are a number of other housekeeping items to keep in mind throughout the winter.
Is your gas furnace in good working order? Is your chimney clean? Are the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors working?
“At least one on each floor,” D’Alessandro said. “If you can afford more, put them in the rooms with combustible sources, including the basement.”
All good tips, but experts say personal responsibility is key.
“The old adage, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it, really does apply in being fire safe,” D’Alessandro said.