Heating elements turn out to be the second largest cause of home fires. In a way, that’s not surprising. We all need to get warm. And while never leaving your cooking is sensible, never leaving your furnace is much more impractical. Falling asleep in your cabin with the woodstove going is perfectly alright—but only if you’ve taken a few precautions beforehand.
Inspect your heating system regularly. If you have a basic wood burning stove, your yearly inspection may be a basic chimney check, done by yourself. You will also need to be vigilant on a day-to day basis. Ensure that nothing that could catch fire is placed on or near the stove. Checking your furnace’s ‘safety zone’ should be part of your evening routine. Check again before leaving your house for any amount of time.
If your furnace is more complicated or you have electric heating, a self-check may not be enough. Have a heating tech in at least once a year to make sure that everything is in order. Portable heaters should never be put next to furniture or curtains.
There’s one more word of caution I need to give you about this. Never use your woodstove or heaters to dry your clothes or shoes. This always seems obvious until the day you come in cold and soaked, no way to get dry, and the stove (or portable heater) seems an answer straight from heaven. If you absolutely must dry your wet socks on the woodstove, use the same precautions you’d use when cooking. Stand watching them the whole time.