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Portable space heaters, kerosene heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves can be a great extra source of warmth when winter days are brutally cold. But these heat sources must be treated with respect.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 3400 Americans die and 17,500 are injured in home fires every year.
Electric space heaters should be chosen carefully. Look for heaters that have been evaluated by nationally recognized laboratories. Make sure your heater switches off automatically when knocked over, and has a thermostat control mechanism.
Don't hang clothes near a heater to dry them. Don't store anything on top of the heater. Don't put anything flammable within three feet of a heater. Children should never be left alone in a room with a space heater.
Only plug your heater into a wall outlet, rather than into a power strip or extension cord. Cords for a heater must be out of the way so nobody trips over them. Don't run them under the rug. When the heater isn't on, be sure to unplug it.
Kerosene heaters should also be evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory. Find out from the fire department whether or not kerosene heater use is legal in your area. Use crystal clear K-1 kerosene. Camp stove fuel or gasoline are not safe alternatives.
Let your heater cool off completely before adding fuel. Always refill it outside. Be careful not to overfill, and only use your heater in a room that is well ventilated.
Wood stoves must be installed according to installation and maintenance instructions from the manufacturer. Your wood stove should be constructed of plate steel or cast iron metal. It should be inspected for cracks. Door seals, hinges and legs should have smooth seams and joints.
Have the chimney and pipes inspected every year. Look it over every month for possible obstructions or damage.
Wood should be fully seasoned. Avoid artificial logs or junk wood and other burnables. Pellet stoves are meant to burn dry seasoned wood pellets and nothing else.
Fireplaces need frequent cleaning since creosote builds up in the chimneys. Have your chimney inspected for cracks and obstructions.