Home Heating Safety Tips

When temperatures plummet, most of us head inside to stay warm. But with the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities, many are looking for alternate sources for home heating.

Alternative Heating Solutions

Installing fireplaces and space heaters are some preferable solutions. However, they are major contributing factors in residential fires. Luckily, many of these fires can be prevented by using these quality safety tips.

Safety Tips for Kerosene Heaters

  • Your heater needs to be in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Ensure the heater has an emergency shut off in case it topples over.
  • Never use fuel-burning appliances without quality room venting. Combusting fuel (coal, kerosene or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
  • ONLY use the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER use a fuel into a unit not designed for that type of fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids, secured in properly designed metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas away from the house.
  • NEVER fill the heater while it is running or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, watch out for overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel ,as it may expand in the tank as it heats up.
  • Refueling should be done apart from the home. Keep young children back from space heaters—particularly when they have on loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel-burning appliance in the bedroom, ensure there is proper ventilation to minimize a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Safety Tips for Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

  • Ensure your fireplace or stove is installed according to manufacturer standards, is in proper working condition, and is of good quality and solid construction and design.
  • Wood stoves need enough clearance (36”) from flammable surfaces and well-constructed floor support and protection.
  • Have the chimney reviewed every year and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been on for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to ignite or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in the fireplace opening to keep embers or sparks from leaping out, hazardous material from going in, and help prevent the potential of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 1530 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Don’t use too much paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  • Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can produce lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials a safe distance from your fireplace mantle. A spark from the fireplace could quickly ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to bed, make sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER shut your damper with lit ashes in the fireplace.
  • A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If man-made logs are used, adhere to the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to encourage the fire or use more than one log at a time. They frequently burn unevenly, releasing increased levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Inspect the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or close to seams can indicate a leak.
  • Check the chimney for any cracks or loose bricks and have a well-trained professional fix any found.
  • All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

Safety Tips for Furnace Heating

  • It is crucial that you have your furnace inspected before each winter season to make sure that it is in good working shape.
  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to insured specialists. Do not attempt repairs on your own.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling by the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, further pipe insulation or clearance may be needed.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Other Fire Safety Tips:

  • Never dispose of hot ashes inside or near the home. Store 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 matter, but it also can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
  • If you use an electric heater, try not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords that have the necessary rating to carry an amp load.
    • TIP: Select 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 might come in contact with water.
  • If your water pipes have frozen, NEVER try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame. The pipe can conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Instead use hot water or a device like a handheld dryer for thawing.
  • If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should catch. Make sure that all the windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
  • 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.
  • Create and practice a home escape plan with your family.
  • Contact your local fire department for advice if you have a question on home fire safety

If your home's furnace isn’t heating properly, call us today at 727-545-8731 to schedule our industry-leading 26-point heating tune-up to get it running in tip-top shape again.