With the temperature forecasted to drop into the 40s and 50s for the next several days, the Houston Fire Department urges citizens to be careful and follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters, fireplaces and other supplemental heating sources.
Citizens should always keep in mind that: Space Heaters Need Space. The Houston Fire Department recommends the following safety tips when using supplemental heating sources:
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and a working carbon monoxide alarm if you use gas or a fireplace (including a wood-burning fireplace) for your heating.
  • Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater.
  • Children may also stick paper or toys in the grates of the space heaters especially gas space heaters.
  • Keep all combustible materials, including yourself at least 3 feet from the heater.
  • Open face heaters should have a screen.
  • Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning*
Vented Gas / Fired Heating Appliances Tips – Central heating units, floor furnaces, recessed wall heaters, and vented space heaters.
  • Inspect annually by a qualified service technician.
  • Do not use these type units without a proper vent pipe. Vent pipes must exhaust to the outside!
  • If your flame is not blue, it is not burning properly. It is producing Carbon Monoxide, which can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. Turn it off.
  • Use flexible metal tubing with threaded ends to connect the heater to the gas valve. There should be a cutoff valve for the heater at the wall. Never use a rubber hose to connect a space heater to the gas valve!
  • Use soapy water to check all connections and valves for leaks. NEVER use a match to test for a gas leak!
  • Look for the American Gas Association label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper usage.
Electric Heaters Tips
  • Never overload outlets or breakers
  • Don’t use extension cords for the heater. If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it!
  • Electric heaters permanently installed in the wall or ceiling should have lint and dust removed regularly.
Just like a space heater, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, and create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room
  • Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present.
  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, and kept at a safe distance from your home.
  • Make sure you open your fireplace flue, if applicable.
*Carbon Monoxide
  • Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can kill you before you are even aware of it.
  • Carbon Monoxide can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, disorientation and fatigue, often mistaken for the flu.
  • Have a working carbon monoxide alarm if you use gas appliances and/or a fire place (gas and wood-burning).
  • When your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, ventilate the house with fresh air by opening windows and doors.

HFD Newsroom
[email protected]