safety tips

Safety tips for heating your home this winter

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With the weather outside soon to be frightful, it’s time to look for ways to keep your home toasty as the snow begins to fall. Unfortunately, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire injuries and deaths, with half of home heating equipment fires reported during the months of December, January and February. Before you crank up the thermostat this season, keep the safety tips below in mind.

Conventional furnace

Utilizing a home furnace is one of the most common way to heat the home, but there are many precautions to take to safely operate furnaces and avoid problems that could pose safety risks. Tip #1: Be sure to have your furnace serviced once per year by a licensed professional. This is the best way to know when your furnace may need maintenance and is running safely and efficiently. Be sure to change or clean your air filter every 1-3 months during the winter when the furnace is being used the most. A dirty or old air filter can cause performance and safety issues, not to mention potential failure leaving you without heat.

Even when not in use, keep objects that could be potential fire hazards at least three feet away from the furnace. Carbon monoxide readers should be placed near the unit in case of a CO2 leak. Check out our blog on carbon monoxide in the home here.

Portable heaters

Portable heaters are another popular method to heating parts of the home, but should be monitored closely and never left on when no one is home. Be sure to read the manufacturers labels and instructions before operating as different units can produce different levels of heat and always insert portable heaters directly into outlets as opposed to extension cords to avoid overheating, fire and potential electric shock injuries.

If using a gas-powered heater, such as gasoline, propane or kerosene, it’s important to be especially cautious. For kerosene heaters specifically, indoor air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and Sulphur dioxide can be emitted, which can lead to asphyxiation if operated in a small room or inadequately ventilated area. Fire, explosion and burns are also a risk with these units, so keep children away at all times.

Avoid the oven and stove as a heating source

One way to never heat the home is via leaving the oven on and open or through a stovetop. Not only are these appliances inefficient, they are also very dangerous through carbon monoxide poisoning (gas oven) and unattended high heat in a small area. An electric oven left cracked open at the highest heat can melt temperature dials. The longer an oven is on — especially unattended — the greater the chance of an electrical malfunction leading to a fire. Leave these appliances to work on what they were made to do – heat and cook your food.

Check out our other Your Power blogs for more great tips for around the home.