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Preparing for Winter with Supplemental Heaters

Randy DeVaul

Posted on October 20, 2018 13:22

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Americans die every year from improper use of supplemental heaters. As winter approaches, ensure you and your family members are safe and warm with proper use, proper ventilation, and proper set-up.

For most of the country, fall has arrived. Thoughts turn to cooler temperatures and preparing for winter. Proper preparations are needed to ensure you and your family members are safe.

On average, 25,000 house fires are caused and more than 6,000 people are burned with space or other supplemental heaters (Claims Journal). People put gasoline in the kerosene tank.  Heaters not stored properly throughout the year became hazardous from tank leaks, corrosion, gumming, or physical damage.  Other families experienced tragic deaths from carbon monoxide and other non-vented vapors while using the heaters.

How do we protect ourselves while providing a comfortable, warm environment in our most sacred places, our homes?   First, prepare your home and your family for using a heater.  Find a location for the heater away from things that easily burn – curtains and drapes, upholstered furniture, carpeting, unprotected wall paper, or holiday decorations.  The heat created by these heaters can ignite paper, cardboard, and other combustibles without ever coming in contact with a live flame.

Also, what has changed this year from last year?  Are there new pets? Are there new children or grandchildren?

Don’t leave heaters on and unattended, even if they have automatic shut-offs or timers.  Keep at least a three foot open space around the heater.  Don’t use your heater as a dryer by draping clothes, gloves, boots, or other materials on or around it.

The National Ag Safety Database recommends that only clear 1-K kerosene should be used in a kerosene heater.  2-K is dirtier and requires more cleaning of wicks.  Don’t ever use gasoline, diesel fuel, or other fuels in a kerosene heater – ever!  Wait 15 minutes before re-fueling so it can cool and always refuel the heater outside.  Filling it indoors with any spillage can cause the floor or carpet to become saturated with fuel and increase your chance of fire.

Ventilation is important.  All supplemental fuel or wood-burning heaters create carbon monoxide while using oxygen in the room.  They also produce other toxic (poisonous, unhealthy) gas – similar to my bulldog, but we’ll save that one for another time.  If you don’t already have them, get carbon monoxide detectors for your home if you plan to use kerosene or other supplemental heaters or propane or natural gas heat in your properly-installed fireplace.

Electric space heaters must be checked for damage when taking them out of storage, including the cord and plug.  Don’t use extension cords with portable heaters and do NOT overload the outlet with extender or strip outlets. Tipping is also a concern, especially around children and pets. Make sure the heating elements are guarded to prevent small fingers or noses reaching the coils and causing severe burns to hands or face.

Used correctly, these supplemental heaters can provide a warm, cozy feeling for you, your kids, your pets, and your indoor tropical plants.  Don’t put your family at risk.  Do what you must to be safe at home!

Randy DeVaul

Posted on October 20, 2018 13:22

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