Safety & Care

Winter Heating Safety Tips

Prepared for winter storm emergencies? As winter approaches, you need to put plans in place on how to heat your home, especially in case of emergency winter storms which could lead to power outages for days or even weeks.

Common ways you could keep your home warm are through the use of fireplaces, space heaters, wood burning stoves and kerosene heaters. You must evaluate and consider specific safety factors before opting for any of the enlisted home heating appliances. It’s worthwhile to know that the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning far outweigh the chances of freezing to death in winter.

The good news is that most of these dangers associated with a home heating emergency can be circumvented if appropriate measures and precautions are taken while handling and operating home heating appliances. Elaborated below are ways you can spot potential hazards and prevent such from happening.

General Guidelines

Fundamentally, do not allow children gain access to portable heaters, whether electric or fuel-powered. Allow adequate air circulation when burning things more than the size of candles in your home. You can do this by opening windows, doors and fireplaces. Ensure that all fueled heaters are vented. Do not use kitchen stovetop to heat your home – this not only produces toxic fumes, but it can also be a source of fire hazard. Just as the name goes, give space heaters their space; keep them away from combustible materials as much as you can. Do not attempt to use supplemental portable electric heaters on extension cords – this easily gets overheated, so could cause a fire. Such heaters are to be plugged directly into the electrical outlet. Never refuel heaters indoors!

Remember to go for the fuel recommended by the heater’s manufacturer. Also follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Use glass or metal screens in front of your fireplace to keep away sparks or hot ashes which could ignite nearby combustible materials.

Ensure you have smoke alarms fitted with battery backup in all floors of your home and have them regularly checked for performance. The batteries should be changed yearly. You should also have carbon monoxide alarms – the one with UL safety listing – installed in your home; manufacturer’s recommendation regarding positioning should be strictly adhered to.

Inspect your heating equipment thoroughly on a daily basis. By sticking with the tips given for each of the home heating appliances, you reduce the chances of your household getting involved in a fire hazard.

Before using a wood stove, ensure it’s made of solid materials like plate steel. Also, check for cracks, and assess the legs, hinges, and seals for smooth joints and seams. Occasionally clean and examine the pipes and chimneys.

In case of electric heaters, you must keep in mind that although electric space heaters do not have an open flame, they are fitted with heating elements which when overheated could cause a fire. Keep them away from combustible substances.

Neglect during refueling of kerosene heaters is the primary cause of hazards when using this heating appliance. Ensure that combustible liquids are properly stored and that the heater is vented to avoid accumulation of toxic fumes in your home. It is crucial that you visit your local fire department and building inspector to help you make an informed decision regarding permits and codes before you opt for a kerosene heater.

To ensure the safety of your home when using a fireplace as your heat source, you must adequately use and maintain the fireplace. Carry out annual checks and cleanups of the fireplace and chimneys. Always put out the fire before you retire to bed.

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