Staying warm, safe this winter

Tech Sgt. Wayne Blake
435th Civil Engineer Squadron

Heating equipment fires are the leading cause of home fires during the winter months. Every winter firefighters dread the avoidable tragedies that occur from the improper use of space heaters.

To reduce this risk, gas and kerosene heaters are not authorized in many places, including KMC military housing. The KMC Fire Department is trained and ready to fight any fire but its main goal is to prevent them. When the temperature drops, make sure to take the proper precautions when using space heaters to stay warm.

Space heaters can come in many designs, be fixed or portable, and be fueled by electricity, wood, gas or kerosene. The National Fire Protection Association research determined that fires caused by space heaters occurred because they were placed or installed too close to combustible materials, had basic flaws in construction and design, or were improperly installed, maintained or fueled.
There were 48,800 fires, 301 deaths and 1,383 injuries involving all forms of heating, according to the 1999 NFPA reports.

Space heaters need space – keep them at least three feet from anything that can burn. Turn off the space heater when away or sleeping. When buying one, look for models that are listed by a testing laboratory and come with an automatic shutoff. Have a professional install and inspect any new heater.

Follow the manufacturers’ instructions when turning a heating device on and off. Make sure the space heater has adequate ventilation, especially gas-fueled devices, which account for most of the non-fire carbon monoxide deaths.

Wood stoves and fireplaces require proper maintenance and supervision.
Have the chimney inspected every year and cleaned as required. Fires can start in chimneys when creosote, the residue of unburned fuel, builds up. Only use seasoned hardwood and never burn trash. Keep sparks and embers inside the fireplace by using a fire screen of heat-tempered glass or sturdy metal.

For on base emergencies, dial 112 from a DSN line or call 06371-47-112 from a housing or personal phone. Off base call 112.