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Public Safety

Prevent Home Fires: Winter Safety Tips

curtain covering a space heater which results in catching on fire.

Half of home heating fires in the U.S. are reported during the months of December, January and February. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department wants to remind San Diegans that these fires can cause major damage, and they can be avoided. In fact, a few simple safety tips and precautions can prevent most heating fires from happening this winter holiday season. 

The magic number is 3: 

  • Keep kids and anything that can burn at least 3-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace or portable space heater. 

Things to check: 

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected once a year by a qualified professional.  

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month. 


  • Plug electric-powered space heaters into an outlet with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.  
  • Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.  
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters. 
  • Do not use your oven to heat your home. 
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.  
  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home. 

For more safety tips from the Fire-Rescue Department, visit