For many folks, it is time to start thinking about safety when using home heating devices. Whether using space heaters, fire places, or woodstoves, there are guidelines to consider to ensure safety. First and foremost, it is critical to make sure there is adequate clearance for space heaters. The heat source should be at least 3 feet from anything that can burn – including people. Blankets, furniture, and newspapers pose fire risks when placed too close to heaters and fire places. Give space heaters space is one of the fire prevention messages in the Remembering When™ program, but this message is important for people of all ages.
When we moved into our current home about 7 years ago, we were excited to have a wood burning stove in the family room to help with the home heating. I was also a bit nervous because my boys were very young and weren’t old enough to really understand the importance of keeping distance between themselves and the wood stove. We solved this problem by installing a safety gate around the stove so everyone could enjoy the heat from an appropriate distance. This year, we realized our younger son, at 8 years old, is responsible enough to maintain a safe distance from the stove so we chose not to install the gate this year. I am proud to say my boys have both developed good habits and are very conscious about safety when we are using the woodstove.
However – I quickly realized I didn’t account for all of our family members. We have 2 cats, Dingo and Serenity (Yes – named after Seinfeld episodes). I did not realize how much Dingo enjoys basking in the heat of the stove. One night while we were in the family room, warm and cozy while watching TV, we watched Dingo plop down right in front of the wood stove – much too closely. We all waited to see if our kitty would move away as he warmed up, but no such luck. He simply stretched out and fell asleep. When I moved him away, I was shocked at how hot his fur had become. It was clear we would need to put the gate up again this year.
Remember: Give space heaters space! Keep flammable items, people AND pets at least three feet away from fire places, wood stoves, and space heaters. Check out our heating safety tip sheet for more information about how to keep your family safe this winter.