Tips And Treats
Alternate Heating Tips
With the high price of nautral gas and other heating fuels, it is anticipated that many people will turn to alternative heating methods this winter to save money. Using fireplaces and wood stoves can be very effective; however, when used improperly they also pose a great risk of causing a fire.
Be sure to follow good fire safety practices when using alternative heating sources.
Last Updated - 2nd December 2005
The sale of wood burning stoves is growing. Space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Homeowners are stocking up on wood and man-made logs for their fireplaces.
All of these options can help keep homes warm this winter, but they can also be major contributing factors in residential fires.
Alternate heat sources
- wood stoves
- plug in space heaters.All of those heat sources pose higher risks of fire and fire death than central heating systems.
The risks are especially great for low-income households. In poor homes, small portable heaters or space heaters may be used to heat areas much too large for their capacity, and some households supplement heating equipment by turning on their ovens and leaving the door open.
Alternate Heating Safety Tips
- Before using a fireplace for the season, make sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep.
- It is recommended that you use a professional installer if you are installing a wood stove.
- If you plan to install a wood stove yourself, make sure to strictly adhere to the installation instructions.
- Keep combustible materials away from fireplaces and wood stoves.
- Make sure the appropriate screens and covers are in place.
- When using electric space heaters, keep the heater 3 feet from the walls and combustible materials.
- Do not run space heaters when no one is home.
- Make sure you have Carbon Monoxide detectors installed and properly functioning in your home.
- Space heaters are a hazard if they are too close to mattresses, bedding, clothing, upholstered furniture or other combustibles. Keep or maintain a 36-inch clearance between space heaters and anything that can burn.
- When buying a new space heater, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory.
- Use only UL-approved heaters with a temperature control and tip-over switch that automatically shuts off the heater.
- Have wood stove and fireplace inserts installed by a qualified technician according to manufacturer's instructions or applicable building codes.
- Have existing units checked to make sure they were properly installed.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, chimney connectors and all other solid-fueled heating equipment inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned as often as inspections suggest.
- Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen or glass doors to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
- Make sure the flue is open before you light a fire. The flue is a trap door that keeps heat out in the summer and cool air from coming in when the fireplace is not in use.
- Use only seasoned woods (dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations).
- Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees because they burn too hot and can ignite a chimney fire
- Do not burn pressure-treated wood in fireplaces or wood stoves because it contains toxic chemicals.
- Allow fireplace and wood stove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container. Never place warm ashes in paper or plastic bags, because they can smolder long after the fire is out.
- Gasoline or other flammable liquids should never be used to start a wood fire since it might explode or flare up.
- Portable kerosene heaters must be fueled only in a well-ventilated area, free of flame and other heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the type of kerosene specified by the manufacturer for that device, and never use gasoline instead of kerosene.
- Have any gas-fueled heating device installed with proper attention to ventilation.
- If unvented gas space heaters are used in bedrooms or bathrooms, make sure they are small and well-mounted. Keep a window ajar or the door open in a room where an unvented heater is in use.
- Never use heaters to dry clothing or other combustibles.
- Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. They can cause fires, or reduce oxygen levels and produce deadly carbon monoxide gas fumes.
- In addition to smoke detectors, install at least one carbon monoxide alarm to protect sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless toxic by-product of fuel-burning appliances and equipment including gas, wood or kerosene. It accounts for nearly 300 home-based deaths a year.
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