Although trending downward since the early 1980s, heating fires remained the second leading cause of home fires in 2021. An estimated 32,200 home heating fires were reported to fire departments within the United States. These fires caused an estimated 190 deaths, 625 injuries and $442 million in property loss.
- Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
- Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
- Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
- Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy.
Home heating fire prevention
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from all heat sources including fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, portable heaters or candles.
- Always plug space heaters directly into an outlet, and make sure its cord isn’t damaged or frayed.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.
- Visit the U.S. Fire Administration Home Fires page to learn about how to prepare for and prevent home fires including tips for individuals with disabilities and older adults.
A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a home fire.
- Replace batteries twice a year, unless you are using 10-year lithium batteries.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.
- Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.
- Audible alarms are available for visually impaired people and smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired.