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 cause more than 4,000 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 chimneys 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 HEATERS
Buy 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.
Buy only UL-approved heaters and check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heaters use in your community. Never fill your heaters with gasoline or cam stove fuel, both flare up easily. Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. Never overfill an portable heater and never fuel the heater when it is hot. Use the kerosene heaters 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.
Fireplaces and wood stoves regularly build up creosote in their chimneys. They need to be cleaned frequently and chimneys should be inspected for obstructions and crack 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 sealed metal container outside the home.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Always remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.
Source: US Fire Association