Home Heating Fires: In the 1970’s and 80’s during the fuel shortage home heating fires spiked to 200,000 heating fires annually, but since then the number of heating fires have substantially decreased making it now second leading cause of fire in residential building fires second to home cooking fires as number one. The increased use of alternative heating during the energy crisis, particularly wood heating stoves and space heaters were primarily to blame.

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In 2007, the number of home heating fires in the US had fallen to approximately 54,000 annually. This accounts for approximately 14% of residential building fires.  There is an annual average death toll of 190; 625 injuries and $286M in lost property.  Heating fires includes central heating units, fixed or portable local heating units, fireplaces, heating stoves, chimneys and water heaters. (from FEMA website) “Residential heating fires” is the same as “residential building heating fires” this equates to fires caused by heating that occur in buildings.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Fatalities: Dangerous Carbon Monoxide is another threat caused by heating units, especially ones not maintained regularly.  An average of 439 persons died annually from unintentional, non–fire-related CO poisoning. The dangers of CO include that it is odorless, colorless and has no obvious warning system other than a CO detector that should be installed and changed every 5 years. 

The symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • stomach aches
  • disorientation

Natural Gas Fatalities: Unlike Carbon Monoxide (CO) and fires, natural gas fatalities are much less frequent.  Low levels of Natural gas are not harmful to human health, however higher levels can cause medical complications including fatalities.  The symptoms are very similar to the Carbon Monoxide (CO) symptoms.  Too much natural gas in a confined area is not only an explosion/fire issue but also an asphyxia issue.

The symptoms include:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • headache
  • irregular breathing

Loss of consciousness or even death can result from exposure to high levels of natural gas,

What to do…

An individual exposed to Carbon Monoxide or Natural Gas asphyxia needs to get fresh air immediately and medical attention as soon as possible. If the person is unconscious and not breathing, move him or her to a location where there is fresh air and administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until help arrives.

What to do if your gas detector alerts you to a natural gas leak

  1. Leave the house immediately.
  2. DO NOT make calls from your home. Phones are capable of producing a spark, which could start a fire or explosion. Contact your local gas utility company or call 911 from a phone outside and away fromyour home.
  3. DO NOT light a match or other combustible material. Likewise, DO NOT turn any light switches on or off, and DO NOTplug or unplug electrical appliances such as a television or vacuum cleaner. These activities also can produce a spark that could start a fire or explosion.
  4. Do not re-enter the house until the gas company finds the source of the leak and corrects it.


A home furnace inspection is one step to preventing fire in your home – the safety inspection should include a carbon monoxide (CO) safety inspection and you should install a new CO detector in your home and replace it every 5 years.  It becomes dramatically less sensitive after 5 years.


If you need help with temperature, contact Cold Craft, Inc.

408.374.7292 or [email protected]

By Published On: September 26, 2014

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