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news News Thursday, November 14, 2019 Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:02 PM - Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:02 PM

It's getting cold outside!

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston shares fire safety tips for cold weather

It's getting cold outside!

With winter approaching, people in New England are starting to spend more time at home while trying to stay warm and cozy. This change in lifestyle brings an added risk when it comes to fire safety – a risk that can be avoided when adhering to fire-safety precautions.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is one of the top causes of fires in U.S. homes and the leading cause of home fire deaths. With the increased number of people using indoor heating and cooking, the risk of a fire is heightened immensely. In addition, winter storms can knock out power, leading residents to rely on unsafe heating sources.

While they may keep you warm, space heaters pose an extreme fire safety hazard. Keep these tips in mind when using them:

NFPA’s safety tips regarding space heaters:

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including people.
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  • Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
  • Keep children away from the space heater.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.

Wood burning stoves and fireplaces also pose considerable safety risks during the winter. Parents and guardians must be extra careful with their children being around the stoves and fireplaces. These heating sources are responsible for both contact burns to small children’s hands and other parts of the body, as well as flame burns. Wood burning stove burns have unfortunately been the cause of many visits to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston.

Before you light your woodstove or fireplace or turn on any portable heating source, make sure your smoke detectors are installed correctly and have working batteries.

Keep these tips in mind for your wood burning stove this season:

  • In wood stoves, burn only DRY, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
  • Clean the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush.
  • Keep the manual in an easily accessible place, so you can refer to it frequently regarding maintenance instructions.
  • Each year, have your wood stove professionally cleaned and inspected to guarantee it’s running safely and efficiently.
  • Establish a three-foot “kid-free zone” around the stove to discourage children from standing directly in front of the stove. Many burns occur when children stand too close to a heating source to warm hands, faces or bottoms.

Who doesn’t love a warm and cozy fire? They create an atmosphere full of comfort and beauty, as well as a great source of heating. As much as fireplaces are admired, you must treat them with the utmost caution, regardless if they are gas or traditional.

The most important rule of thumb when it comes to fireplace safety is the establishment of the three-foot “kids-free zone.” A fireplace burn can occur regardless of what type of fireplace you have at home, no matter if you have a screen up or a glass front.

If you have a traditional fireplace:

  • Have a professional come inspect and clean your chimney before lighting the first fire of the year.
  • Check to make sure the damper is open before lighting a fire.
  • Burn only fire starter logs or aged wood in your fireplace. NEVER burn trash, green wood, or paper, as these materials can cause creosote buildup and can create fire that burns too hot and becomes difficult to control.
  • Use a screen that covers the entire opening of the fireplace and is heavy enough to stop a rolling log.
  • When preparing, starting or feeding the fire, do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Make sure the fire is completely burned out before going to bed. Never leave an active fire unattended.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside of your home.

Gas fireplaces are safer than the traditional wood burning fireplaces. However, that does not mean owners should ignore basic precautions.

If you have a gas fireplace:

  • Make sure to keep a 3-foot clearance zone and NEVER lean anything directly up against the glass.
  • If the fireplace has a remote, keep it out of reach of children.
  • Gas fireplaces feature a glass panel which separates the firebox from the room. However, that glass can get extremely hot, hot enough for someone to get severe burns. Make sure if children are home, either do not turn it on or make sure everyone follows the rules of the clearance zone.
  • Consider upgrading your gas fireplace with a double glass heat barrier. It provides extra safety by creating an outer and inner glass barrier. In the middle, there is a ventilation layer which releases heat safely into the room.

This season, make sure you and your family are prepared for the colder months. Take steps to ensure safety and comfort by adhering to these safety tips.

In the unfortunate event that a child receives a burn injury, the Boston Shriners Hospital is here to help. Call 844-856-8347 for urgent referrals or 617-722-3000 to learn more.

If you’d like to support the children who receive treatment here at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, please consider making a gift and selecting the Boston hospital when you donate online.