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Safety tips when using supplemental heating

When the weather gets colder, we sometimes turn to supplement heating devices to help keep us warm and comfortable. Items like space heaters and electric blankets keep us warm when the furnace is struggling to keep up, or you’ve turned down the thermostat at night.

These are useful tools against the cold, but we need to be safety minded when we utilize them. Data from the National Fire Protection Association indicates that heating equipment fires have been the second leading cause of home fires. Nearly half of these occur during the months of December, January, and February.

Space heater safety

Space heaters are convenient for places you need a little boost of warmth. There are many types and sizes to choose from, and nearly all modern models come with built-in safety mechanisms such as automatic shut off if the unit gets knocked over.

However, there’s no safety mechanism against placing them too near a flammable object. When you’re using a space heater, be sure and place it at least three feet away from anything that might catch fire, such as bedding, furniture, drapes, or clothing.

Additional safe practices for using space heaters includes:

1. Shut off your space heater if you leave the area or go to bed.
2. Don’t overload your outlets when plugging in electric space heaters.
3. Refrain from plugging your electric heater into an extension cord.
4. Avoid using electric heaters in your bathroom or any other are it may come into contact with water so there’s no danger of electrocution.
5. Burn only kerosene in a kerosene heater because gasoline or any other type of fuel can be extremely dangerous.
6. Use only water-clear rather than yellow kerosene in your kerosene heater.
7. Refuel your kerosene heater outside, not indoors.
8. Follow any manufacturer instructions supplied for turning a space heater on and off.

Electric blanket and heating pad safety

You use electric blankets and heating pads in different ways. Electric blankets are used as a top covering providing electrically-generated warmth to the snugglers underneath. By contrast, heating pads are used directly on the mattress to provide heat from underneath. They are designed to heat in a particular way and are not interchangeable (that is, you should not try to use an electric blanket under you like a heating pad). Also, they are not meant to be used at the same time.

Because both utilize electricity, heating pads and electric blankets carry a slight risk with operation, and research shows they cause nearly 500 fires per year. To prevent the likelihood of any danger, you should be mindful of safe handling tips, which include:

1. Replacing an electric blanket that is more than 10 years old. Almost all fires involving electric blankets happened with items that were more than 10 years old.
2. Refrain from putting anything on top of an electric blanket or heating pad when it is on to avoid overheating. This includes people, pets, and other blankets
3. Do not fold an electric blanket when it is turned on. This could cause overheating and lead to a fire.
4. Discard any electric heating blanket or pad that has a cracked or frayed cord. Likewise, if there are any darkened or charred spots, discard it.
5. Do not leave electric items on overnight. They are designed to warm things up, not continuously heat all night.
6. Never leave a heating blanket or pad unattended.

Furnace safety

Supplemental heating equipment is useful, but the most important (and valuable) heating element in your home is your furnace. Remember to have it regularly inspected and maintained to keep it running efficiently and safely. For more information, contact the certified HVAC professionals at MoreVent Heating Cooling & Plumbing.

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