Heating Your Home Safely
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Unattended equipment is the number one source of these fires, says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy. Carli urges homeowners to monitor all heating equipment carefully, particularly space heaters. Whether portable or stationary, space heaters account for a third of home heating fires each year.â€¨â€¨
To greatly reduce the risk for heating fires at home, the NFPA suggests homeowners follow these guidelines.
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.
- If there are children in your home, create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters and open fires.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- For fuel-burning space heaters, always use the right kind of fuel, as specified by the manufacturer.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
- Remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
Improperly used or malfunctioning heating equipment can also result in carbon monoxide, a poisonous, potentially fatal gas, in the home. Homeowners can avoid this by following these tips from the NFPA.
- Keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside of your home.
- If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
- During and after the storm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- Test your carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they’re working properly.
- If you begin to feel sick or dizzy while your generator is running, you may be breathing in carbon monoxide. Get to fresh air quickly.
- Turn portable generators off and let them cool down before refueling; don’t refuel it while it’s running.
- Make sure fuel, including gasoline and other flammable liquids, is stored in properly labeled safety containers. Place them outside all living areas and away from any fuel-burning appliances such as a gas hot water heater.
- Always use extreme caution when operating electrical equipment in a damp or wet environment.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty outdoor-rated extension cord. Make sure the cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin. Do not try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.