Winter Fire Safety Tips from the Lake Forest Fire Department

Heating Systems
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of furnace fires:

  • Regularly replace furnace filters.
  • Keep all areas around the furnace clean and unobstructed.
  • Keep the burner area clean and clear of debris.
  • Keep all combustible items at least six inches away from the vent pipe.
  • Never close off more than 20% of heat registers. If there are any issues with your heating system, contact a professional immediately. For preventative care, have your central heating system cleaned and serviced by a certified HVAC contractor once annually.

Space Heaters
Space heaters can be dangerous if not used in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating instructions. Check your owner’s manuals for general maintenance and cleaning instructions.

  • Make sure space heaters are equipped with “tip over” protection.
  • Keep it away from combustible materials, keep at least 3 feet of clearance in all directions around the heater. Do NOT use an extension cord or surge protector to plug it in.
  • Each season before using space heaters, inspect them for damage, including the power cord, and proper operation.
  • It is more economical to replace older units than to have them repaired. Newer units are safer and more economical to operate.


  • Clean and check fireplaces and chimneys regularly.
  • Use a fireplace screen, guard, or glass doors to keep hot ash and sparks contained.
  • Store extra wood, and other types of combustible materials, at least 3-feet away from your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Burn seasoned hardwoods, such as oak, that have been split and stored in a safe and dry environment for at least six-months.
  • Keep fires small – never overload your fireplace.
  • When building a fire, strategically place logs on a metal grate at the back end of your fireplace; always use kindling to ignite fire.
Stay Informed!