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Winter Home Heating Safety

Learn how to keep your family warm and safe this heating season.
Keep warm keep safe logo

Heating is a leading cause of home fires in Massachusetts. Use your home heating system and space heating appliances responsibly to keep warm and keep safe.

Essential Fire Safety Tips

  • Make sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and outside each bedroom.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly and change batteries twice a year, when you change the clocks.
  • Create a home escape plan and hold home fire drills to practice the  plan.
  • Practice home fire safety and set a good example for the children

Read more about winter home heating safety in 7 languages. 

Color brochure in English and Spanish

The Keep Warm Keep Safe English/Spanish Brochure is a color pamphlet on winter home heating safety in both English and Spanish. Order this pamphlet in quantity, free, from the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse.

Additional Resources

Safe Use of Fireplaces and Solid Fuel Stoves

If you heat your home with solid fuels (coal, firewood, pellets), follow these safe practices:

  • Have your chimney professionally cleaned every year.
  • Make sure the stove is approved by a national testing agency such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL).
  • Get a building permit before installing a stove.
  • Keep anything that can burn three feet away.
  • Dispose of ashes in a metal container, with a lid, away from the house, garage and porch.

Safe Use of Space Heaters

Space heater fires are rare but often deadly. If you must use a space heater, follow these safe practices:

  • Do not use space heaters as your #1 heating source.
  • Keep anything that can burn three feet away.
  • Use only heavy-duty extension cords.
  • Always turn off space heaters when going to bed or leaving home.
  • It is illegal to use portable kerosene heaters in Massachusetts homes.
  • Read or print the brochure Space Heater Safety in English or Space Heater Safety in Spanish for additional tips.

Maintain Natural Gas Equipment

Natural gas is a safe and efficient way to cook and to heat homes and hot water. Follow these safe practices if you use natural gas:

  • Have your furnace and hot water heater professionally checked every year.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the appliance.
  • Do not use or store gasoline or painting supplies indoors where the furnace pilot light can ignite them.

Gas leaks can be dangerous – if you smell something like rotten eggs or you think there might be a leak,

  • Go outdoors.
  • Do not smoke or turn electrical switches on or off  - sparks can cause an explosion.
  • Dial 911 immediately.

Maintain Oil Heating Equipment

Home heating with fuel oil is safe and efficient. Follow these safe practices if you use oil:

  • Have your furnace professionally cleaned and checked every year.
  • Don’t let the tank get completely empty.
  • Call for service if the oil burner releases smoke or soot in the house
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the appliance.

Practice Carbon Monoxide Safety

Heating equipment is the leading source of carbon monoxide (CO) in the home and CO is deadly. To protect your home and family from CO poisoning, follow these safety practices:

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.
  • Don’t use a gas stove or oven for heat.
  • Have furnaces and chimneys checked annually by a professional.
  • Keep appliance vents and exhaust pipes clear of drifting snow and bushes.

Additional Resources

Contact   for Winter Home Heating Safety

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