Fall and winter are here. The cooler temperatures are starting to show up in our service area. One of the things many people use is space heaters. Additionally, the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fire places are burning wood and manmade logs. All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
- Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
- Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
- Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER INTRODUCE A FUEL INTO A UNIT NOT DESIGNED FOR THAT TYPE FUEL.
- Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
- NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel, as it may expand in the tank as it warms up.
- Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors).
- Keep young children away from space heaters—especially when they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
- When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
WOOD STOVES AND FIREPLACES
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard. Although proper maintenance, cleaning, and care should reduce the chance of a chimney fire, it’s always smart to be prepared. To use wood stove and fireplaces safely:
Portable electric heaters manufactured after 1991 include many new performance requirements to enhance safety. For portable electric heaters that may present a fire hazard when tipped over, a tip-over switch will turn the heater off until it is turned upright again. New heaters also include indicator lights to let users know that the heater is plugged in or is turned on. Some manufacturers have included technically innovative safety controls such as infrared or proximity sensors, which can turn a heater off when objects come too close, or when children or pets are near. These kinds of controls may prevent burn injuries to children who might play too near a heater, or reduce the risk of ignition of combustible materials that could contact the heater.
- Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in a proper working condition.
- Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
- Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
- Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported; free of holes, and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
- Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
OTHER FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place 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 hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
- If you use and electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load. TIP: Choose 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 may come in contact with water.
- Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, (otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space). Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
- 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 located.
- Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
- Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
Information provided from the National Safety Council
I’m on vacation this week so the blog posts comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau