Alternative Heating Safety Tips

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

October 25, 2005

More and more people are turning to alternative heating devices this winter. They're hoping to save a buck on high heating costs, but before you go out and buy a portable heater, there are a few safety tips you should keep in mind.

Winter is still weeks away, but at Martins hardware, portable heaters are already flying off the shelves.

"There's been probably at least a 40 or 50 percent increase in sales on electric space heaters and kerosene heaters," Travis Johnson of Martins Hardware.

Although these alternative heating devices can definitely help lower high heating bills, they can also increase the risk of fire if not properly used.

"We do have a lot of fires that occur, usually because someone hasn't taken the time to take the proper safety precautions," said Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner.

So before you turn on that portable heater or wood stove, there are a few things to remember:

-Be sure to keep all heating devices at least three feet away from anything flammable.

-Make sure your wood stove or chimney is cleaned and inspected.

-Remember to fuel kerosene heaters outside the home.

-Never leave any alternative heating devices unattended.

These devices can increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning so fire officials recommend buying a detector.

"A smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector can give you early warning [detection] of problems that you would not otherwise know about," said Werner.

But before you buy anything, Johnson recommends doing a little research to find out which heater is best suited for your home.

"Read the box, be sure to look at it carefully, just like you'd buy anything else or any other appliance, you want to make sure you know what your getting," said Johnson.

Also be sure to change your furnace filters regularly, as well as the batteries in your smoke detector.

These extra steps are the keys to not only a warm winter, but also a safe one.

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