FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 08, 2020


TRENTON, NJ – Because heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires, the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety is encouraging residents this winter season to keep their heating systems in good working order and to avoid unsafe heating practices such as using a kitchen stove or oven to keep warm. 

“When temperatures plunge, the potential for home fires and carbon monoxide incidents can soar as people use non-conventional, potentially hazardous heating sources such as cooking equipment to stay warm,” said Richard Mikutsky, State Fire Marshal and Division of Fire Safety Director. “Also, portable space heaters, which are a popular way to supplement central heating, can be dangerous if not used with the utmost care and proper ventilation.”

 In fact, half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February when temperatures are at their coldest, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

Therefore, the Division of Fire Safety advises residents to observe the following safe practices for the home heating season: 


  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a certified professional.
  • Make sure a fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cold before putting them in a metal container and removing them from the home. Keep the container outside and at least 10 feet away from your home and other buildings.
  • Vent all fuel-burning heating equipment to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. 


  • Make certain your heater has an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS). ODS sensors are found in portable heaters made after 1984 and will turn off the heater if it senses high levels of CO.
  • Look for an independent lab label such as UL which sets minimum safety standards for manufacture.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  • If the space heater is electric, make certain the cord is #14 gauge or larger. Do not run the cord under a rug.
  • Plug the heater directly into wall outlets, and never use an extension cord.
  • Make sure the unit has a protective grill in front of the heating element, which is the part that glows.
  • Turn the heater off when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Enforce the “3 Foot Rule” with young children. Keep them at least three feet away.
  • Keep flammable materials such as bedding, curtains, and clothing three feet away.
  • Make sure the device has an auto shut-off that turns the heater off if it is knocked over.
  • Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic and never block an exit. 


  • CO is a toxic gas that can kill even before you are aware it is in your home. At low levels it can mimic flu symptoms, including nausea, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness.
  • CO sources include gas-fired heating systems and appliances, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, generators, and motor vehicles.
  • Though CO can be a danger at any time of year, it is most hazardous when windows and doors are closed.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. 

The most effective fire safety tools continue to be a working smoke and CO alarm on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas, coupled with closing your bedroom door when you go to sleep, and having a family escape plan. 

Consumers should also know that by law in New Jersey kerosene heaters are banned in all commercial establishments and multiple-unit dwellings. Further, there may be local ordinances that prohibit kerosene heater use in single-family homes. It is best to check with your municipal fire official before purchasing one. 

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing community risk reduction and firefighter training programs.

For more information about DCA, visit or follow the Department on social media:      

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Tammori Petty
Gina Trish
Lisa Ryan

(609) 292-6055