Heating The Home Safely
Winter is the time that families take out the heaters but make sure that your family and your home is safe when you do.
It's a sad fact that when temperatures drop and heaters get switched on, so does the incidence of fires in homes around the country. While in many cases the cause of residential fires is attributed to preventable accidents, there are more that are due to faulty or old heaters, worn or frayed electrical cables or simply not being knowledgeable on the safe use of heaters in the home.
Whether you heat your home with an electrical bar-type heater, fan heater, oil radiator or gas heating, we offer a few tips on ensuring the safety of your family and your home while staying warm this winter.
So many injuries and accidents can be prevented when simple precautions are put in place. Take guidance from the following tips:
Home Heating Safety Tips
• Check Wiring
Before plugging in any heater, check the electrical cord for wear and tear. Also, check that the power plug is properly connected and there are no loose wires. Where cables are frayed or damaged it is safer to discard the heater and replace it with a new one.
It is far safer to plug in a heater directly into a wall socket than plug into an extension cable or power strip. Heaters consume a lot of power and this can cause overheating of an extension cable or power strip and subsequently lead to a fire in the home.
• Inspect Heating Elements
On electric heaters, particularly those that have heating bars, make sure that the bars are firmly locked in place and there is no visible damage. Where oil-type radiator heater is used, inspect the seams around the fins for damage or leaks. For your safety, should a radiator oil heater be dropped, have it tested before putting it to use in your home. Although not as common as fires caused by electric heaters, there are known instances where radiator oil heaters have leaked or burst.
• Adequate Ventilation is Essential
Where a gas heater or a gas fireplace is used to heat a home, it is important to have air ventilation in the room. Open a window slightly if you don't have air vents in the walls or ceiling to allow airflow and prevent the build-up of toxic carbon monoxide. All gas heaters produce a minimal amount of carbon monoxide that can be dangerous if allowed to build up and since you cannot detect the smell of carbon monoxide asphyxiation can occur as a result of this.
Gas heaters should be thoroughly inspected before use to ensure pipes and fittings are clean and free from any debris that may cause a blockage, particularly heaters that are still found in older homes and flats.
• Never Leave Heaters Unattended
Any type of heater should not be left unattended, particularly overnight. Switch off any heaters when retiring in the evening or when you leave a room for longer than a short period.
• Leave Enough Space Around Heaters
You never know what materials might be flammable so it is always safer to make sure that any heater is well away from furniture and has enough space around to ensure safe operation. Never put anything on top of a heater, even an oil-type radiator. The same rule applies to an open fireplace - never place things in front of the open flame. Always allow at least one metre around any heater and place on a flat, level surface where there is no opportunity for the heater to become unbalanced.
• Listen for Unusual Noises
When using gas heaters or oil-type radiators listen for any noises that are unusual or don't normally occur, as this could be an indication of a potentially dangerous situation. If in doubt, have the heater checked by a gas supplier or repair company.