Winter Home Heating Safety

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 52,000 home fires a year occur as a result of home heating systems. This represents 15% of all home fires overall! These fires cause over $1 Billion dollars a year in property damage and take about 500 lives!
Clear your heating vents

Winter Home Heating Safety Tips

Here are some tips to keep you safe during winter
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is the silent killer. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous. One of the major sources of carbon monoxide is from heating appliances that are not properly maintained. Make sure your home has working CO detectors on every floor.
  • Remember to clear away snow and/or debris from appliance vents and intakes.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from any heating appliance.
  • Create a home escape plan and practice it with your family. 

Solid Fuel Appliances

Wood stoves, pellet stoves, coal stoves, fireplaces, etc. 
  • Have your chimney professionally cleaned annually.
  • Make sure stoves and appliances are listed and approved by an organization like UL or FM
  • Get a building permit before installing any of these appliances.
  • Keep anything that can burn freely at least three feet away from fire and appliances
  • Dispose ashes in a metal container with a lid, and place the contained away from the house, garage, or shed. Ash piles insulate themselves and can still be hot enough to cause a fire hours after they appear cool. 
Space heater

Space Heaters

Space heaters need space!
  • Don't use a space heater as your primary source of heat.
  • Keep combustibles three feet away
  • Use a heavy duty extension cord.
  • Always turn off if going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Make sure your space heater automatically shuts off if it is tipped over.
  • Portable kerosene space heaters are illegal in MA for home use

Natural Gas Appliances

  • Have your furnace and hot water heater professionally checked every year
  • Don't use or store gasoline or painting supplies inside where they can be ignited by the pilot light
Gas leaks can be dangerous. If you smell something like rotten eggs or you think there might be a leak - 
  • Move outdoors
  • Do not smoke or turn on or off electrical switches. Sparks can cause an explosion.
oil burner and tank

Oil Heating Equipment

  • Have your furnace professionally cleaned and checked every year.
  • Call for service if the oil burner releases smoke or soot into the house. 
  • Don't let the tank get completely empty. If you need help keeping fuel in the tank, contact HEATLINE at 1-800-632-8175

For information on fuel assistance, please call the HEATLINE at 1-800-632-8175 or visit them online at

Chelmsford residents can also call the Community Services Department at (978) 254-0446, or send an email to Community Services Director Jen Melanson for assistance connecting with fuel resources.