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Not an efficient space heater. (Source: groggy.girl/Flickr)

Well, it seems like we’re on day 527 of freezing cold weather, and by my count we’ve had something like a billion inches of snow.

As neighbors bundle up and gather around the radiator, there have been a number of reports of fires, burns and other tragedies caused, in part, by home heating equipment.

In fact, according to the National Fire Preparedness Association, half of all home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. And half of home heating fire deaths result from keeping things too close to a heat source.

So we’re passing on some tips from that organization to help make sure you have a warm and safe winter. Share them with friends and family, because I hate writing stories like this.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or other space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

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