CAL FIRE releases suggestions for heat system safety

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has released new safety reminders for residents gearing up for a cooler storm system. In a region where light rain can send homeowners scrambling, the common-sense guidelines may help insurance policy holders reduce their likelihood of filing a claim. 

CAL FIRE has recommended that citizens remain cautious when turning on and managing their home heating systems. From portable space heaters to central heating systems, misuse of heating equipment claims a staggering annual toll in property and human lives. In 2011, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that 53,000 home structural fires were caused by heating equipment, in addition to 400 deaths and 1,520 injuries. In total, the NFPA reports that in a single year, heating equipment can cause $893 million in damages. 

"CAL FIRE is encouraging everyone to be safe with heating their homes, as this is the time of year fire departments across the nation see an increase in home fires due to dangerous heating equipment or unsafe practices," the organization said in a press release. "Improper use or poorly maintained heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires and home fire deaths across the country."

For those reasons, it makes sense for CAL FIRE to get ahead of the storm with its step-by-step advisory. Among its suggestions are keeping flammable material three feet away from a heat source, clearing and inspecting chimneys, turning unattended space heaters off and refraining from using a kitchen oven as a heater. The incidence of catastrophic damage has fallen over the last 30 years, owed in part to efforts to raise awareness about homeowners' risk. Releasing directives to citizens may help prevent some of those preventable fires from occurring.