Friday, November 4, 2011

Alternate Source of Home Heating

The high cost of home heating and the current recession have led many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. Many of these sources of heating may be acceptable if appropriate safeguards are used. However, be aware these supplemental heating devices are responsible for thousands of home fires each year.
Wood Stoves
Wood stoves cause more than 4000 residential fires each year. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions. Look for solid construction, such as plate steel or cast iron metal. Check for cracks and inspect legs, hinges and door seals for smooth joints and seams. Use only seasoned wood for fuel, not green wood, artificial logs or trash. Inspect and clean your pipes and chimney annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions. Cleaning more often may be necessary. Be sure to keep combustible objects at least three feet away from your wood stove.

Electric Space HeatersBuy only heaters with the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) safety listing. Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from the heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.
Kerosene HeatersBuy only UP-approved heaters and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community. Never fill your heater with gasoline or camp stove fuel; both flare up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. Never overfill any portable heater and never fuel the heater when it is hot. Use the kerosene heater in a well-ventilated room. Kerosene heaters pose perhaps the worst exposure largely due to improper use and the fact they contain a highly flammable liquid- not to mention potentially dangerous fumes.
FireplacesFireplaces and wood stoves regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. They need to be cleaned frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and cracks to prevent deadly chimney and roof fires. Check to make sure the damper is open before starting any fire. Never burn trash, paper or green wood in your fireplace. These materials cause heavy creosote buildup and are difficult to control. Use a screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks. Do not wear loose fitting clothes near any open flame. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increased your chances of surviving a fire. Always remember to practice a hoe escape plan frequently with your family.
Source: US Fire Association