Home Heating Safety Tips

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When temperatures drop, most of us remain inside to stay warm. But with the rising costs of home heating fuels and utilities, some folks are looking for alternate sources for home heating.

Alternative Heating Solutions

The use of fireplaces and space heaters are some preferable solutions. However, they may lead to residential fires. Luckily, a lot of these fires can be prevented by using these quality safety tips.

Safety Tips for Kerosene Heaters

  • Your heater has be in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Take the steps necessary so the heater has an emergency shut off in case it is knocked over.
  • Don’t use fuel-burning appliances without quality room venting. Using fuel (coal, kerosene or propane, for example) can create deadly fumes.
  • ONLY use the fuel suggested by the heater manufacturer. NEVER utilize a fuel into equipment not designed for that type of fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids, secured in adequate metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas away from the house.
  • NEVER refuel the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene heater, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel ,as it can expand in the tank as it heats up.
  • Refueling is safest when handled apart from the home. Keep young children away from space heaters—namely when they wear loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel-burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to stop a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Safety Tips for Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

  • Ensure your fireplace or stove is installed correctly, is in proper working condition, and is of good quality and durable construction and design.
  • Wood stoves require enough clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces and robust floor support and protection.
  • Have the chimney inspected every year and cleaned if needed, especially if it has not been running for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to spark or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in the fireplace opening to keep embers or sparks from falling out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the potential of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 1530 minutes to lower the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Don’t use too much paper to start roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  • Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can result in lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials a safe distance from your fireplace mantle. A spark from the fireplace could quickly ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to bed, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER shut your damper with smoldering ashes in the fireplace.
  • A shut damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log in smaller part to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Take a look at the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot on or around seams might be an indicator of a leak.
  • Check the chimney for any cracks or loose bricks and have a qualified professional fix any found.
  • All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

Safety Tips for Furnace Heating

  • It is important that you have your furnace reviewed at the start of each winter season to ensure that it is in good working shape.
  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to insured professionals. Do not attempt repairs yourself.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling close to the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, more pipe insulation or clearance may be needed.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Other Fire Safety Tips

  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Store them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety matter, but it also can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
  • If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords that have the needed rating to carry an amp load.
    • TIP: Select an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
  • Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they can come in contact with water.
  • If your water pipes have frozen, NEVER try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame. The pipe may conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure within the wall space. Instead use hot water or a device like a handheld dryer for thawing.
  • If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should appear. Be sure that all the windows open easily. Home escape ladders are beneficial.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be found.
  • Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
  • Create and practice a home escape plan with your family.
  • Get in touch with your local fire department for more information if you have a question on home fire safety