National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Winter Fire Safety


  • Cooking is usually the leading cause of residential fires, with open flames and heating fires often the number two and three causes
  • Most heating fires involve fireplaces or chimneys
  • Almost three-quarters of fire deaths occur in the home, making it the most dangerous place to be with regard to fire
  • Many home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors

Safety Information

  • Turn off portable heating appliances when leaving the home or retiring for the evening. This includes verifying that a fire in the fireplace has been fully extinguished.
  • Have at least 3 feet of clearance between any heating equipment and anything that can burn. Keep children and loose clothing away from any heating equipment.
  • Have chimneys, fireplaces and other heating devices professionally inspected prior to the start of every heating season
  • Use a sturdy screen or glass closure in front of your fireplace, and burn only clean fireplace wood
  • Make sure smoke detectors are installed on every level of your home, including your basement. Test them monthly.
  • Place holiday decorations well away from heat sources. If you use a tree, water it daily as a dry tree can be consumed by fire in an instant.