Home Heating Safety Tips
Keep your heating costs down, but your temperature up
By Sylvia Cochran
When the weather cools down, homeowners and small business operators consider their heating options. While central heating is a common and safe method of heating small and large spaces, the cost of utilities may have you looking to other heating sources. There are plenty of options for warming one or more areas with alternative means, but they require the single-minded practice of home heating safety. With just a bit of know-how, you can maintain a cozy temperature in any one room without seeing your heating bill skyrocket.
A crackling fire is an excellent way of heating a room and providing winter evening ambiance to boot, but there are some dangers associated with this practice. If you use your fireplace with some regularity -- or if you are getting ready to use it for the first time in a number of months -- call a chimney sweep first. This professional will clean the firebox and chimney portion of the fireplace to remove the creosote that builds up over time. He also inspects the chimney for cracks or plugs that might obstruct proper ventilation. When you receive his clearance, install a tight-fitting screen in front of the firebox; it prevents a piece of wood from rolling out of the fireplace and onto your floor and also catches burning embers that might escape from the firebox. This prevents house fires.
Space Heater Safety
The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2003, space heaters caused 26 percent of home fires but actually contributed to 73 percent of heating fire related deaths. This makes the use of space heaters a dangerous method of warming a room, but it is nonetheless one that is common. You can stay safe while using a space heater if you remember to have a 3-foot zone around the appliance that is devoid of anything flammable. Plug an electric heater directly into the outlet and do not use an extension cord. Inspect the cable and plug regularly, and replace the appliance if the cable appears frayed or the wires are visible. Turn off the space heater when nobody is in the room where it is located, and move it away from the bed or sofa, so that it can not accidentally be tipped over. If you are ready to replace your space heater, look for one with a tip switch that automatically turns the appliance off if it falls over.
If you live in a remote mountain location or small town that experiences frequent electricity outages during the cold winter months, having a portable generator is a must. It allows you to plug in your electric conveniences that keep you warm. Heating a home with the help of a portable generator might be your only choice at times, but there are safety issues associated with the use of these appliances. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that the buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) from the generator's exhaust is a noted danger. Avoid CO poisoning by operating your generator outside your home, in a dry but well-ventilated area; and place it away from your home's vents and windows, as placing it too close may allow the gas to enter your home. Another safety issue you must remember is the storage and addition of the fuel that powers the generator. Keep extra fuel away from the appliance, and only refuel when the generator feels cool to the touch. Ensure that the generator is dry at all times, and if your hands or feet are wet, dry off prior to actually touching the appliance; this greatly reduces the risk of electrocution.
About the Author
Sylvia Cochran is a regular contributor to DexKnows, specializing in home and garden.
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