The fire in a Bronx, New York, apartment building that killed at least 17 people was started by a malfunctioning space heater, according to officials there. A door left open in the building also contributed to the spread of the fire.

The Iowa City Fire Department wishes to remind the community that one in every seven home fires and one in every five home fire deaths involve heating equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the UL Fire Safety Research Institute have the following tips for staying warm safely this winter:

  • Install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month. 
  • Have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, or space heaters.
  • Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home. 
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. 
  • "Close before you doze" - sleeping with your bedroom door closed can slow the spread of fire and save lives.

According to the USFA, more than 150 people die in the United States each year do to accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning attributed to generators or fuel-burning appliances including furnaces, stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces. 

Initial symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. More severe symptoms include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and death.

Date of publication

Thursday, January 13, 2022