The one-two punch of low temperatures and high fuel prices have many homeowners using alternative heating solutions to warm up their homes this winter. Whether you use a conventional heating system or supplement with other heat sources, it’s essential to use them safely. With that in mind, our home comfort specialists offer some key fire safety tips for staying warm, cozy, and safe during the cold weather months.
General Fire Safety Rules
There are a few general safety rules to remember when using heating elements in your home, including:
Allowing a three foot clearance from flammable materials, including curtains, furniture, and rugs.
Always supervising children and pets.
Never leaving a heat source unattended while in use.
Ensuring your home is equipped with a working fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke alarms in every room on every level.
Using Additional Heat Sources Safely
In addition to these safety measures, there are specific safety practices to follow when using additional heat sources, such as a wood stove, fireplace, or portable heater.
When Heating with Wood:
Only burn dry, seasoned wood in your wood stove or fireplace. Wet wood produces more creosote, a highly flammable byproduct, which can build up in the chimney and create a fire hazard.
Never burn trash, cardboard, or other materials. When burned, these materials can release dangerous chemicals and pollutants into the air.
Don’t overbuild a fire with excess paper or multiple artificial logs. Roaring fires can ignite creosote in the chimney.
Have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned annually. This will ensure there are no cracks or other damage that could cause a fire, and prevent any blockages that could lead to a carbon monoxide buildup in your chimney.
Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks and embers from jumping out of the fireplace.
Remove ashes when they reach the fire grate. Wait until they’ve cooled completely and dispose of them properly. This will promote airflow and ventilation.
When Using a Portable Heater:
Familiarize yourself with manufacturer's instructions and warning labels. This will help you use the heater safely and alert you to any potential hazards.
Place your portable heater on a flat, stable surface. Be sure it has an automatic shut-off feature in case it tips over.
Plug directly into a wall outlet. Don't use extension cords as they can overheat and start a fire.
Don't use kerosene heaters in small, enclosed spaces. The fumes can build up and cause respiratory problems.
Only use kerosene in kerosene heaters. Other fuels can produce harmful fumes or start a fire. And be sure to let your heater cool down before refueling.
Always refuel your heater outside your home. Store flammable liquids in a metal container in a ventilated area away from your home.
Do not place a portable heater close to water or in damp areas as it can create a risk of electrocution.
When Heating with a Furnace or Boiler:
Have your system inspected and serviced annually to ensure it's running efficiently and effectively. These annual service appointments will also catch any potential problems before they become serious.
Take notice of any strange noises or smells coming from your heating equipment. These could be warning signs of something wrong with the system and should be addressed immediately.
Replace the filter regularly to ensure your system is running at optimum performance.
Heating System Installation, Service, Maintenance and Repair
Following these safety tips will keep your home and family safe and warm during the cold winter months. If you have concerns about your heating system, contact Main Stream Mechanical. We’re your local home comfort specialists.
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