As the weather starts to cool down and daylight dwindles, it is more important than ever to ensure that your home stays warm and cozy for the fall and winter seasons. However, some home heating options could put you and your family in harm’s way. Here are some home heating safety tips to keep in mind as the cold weather approaches.
Avoid kerosene heaters. There are many hazards associated with kerosene heating systems such as potential fires or explosions due to improper handling of flammable substances, burns from direct contact with the heater or ignition of combustible clothing, asphyxiation due to the heater reducing oxygen in its vicinity as it burns (especially in less-ventilated areas), and indoor air pollution due to carbon monoxide, an invisible and odorless gas that can also cause asphyxiation. If not used with great caution, kerosene heaters can cause catastrophic damage to your house, as well as preventable fatalities.
Be cautious with generator usage during power outages. While generators are generally safe to use, they can cause great harm if used incorrectly. There are many potential hazards associated with portable generators such as fires, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhaust in confined spaces, and electric shock or electrocution from improperly handling the generator. You should never use a portable generator indoors — even in sheds, garages, or crawlspaces. Additionally, you should never use a wall outlet to power a generator, and you should practice great caution when operating a generator in damp conditions (such as a thunderstorm) to prevent electrocution.
Get a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide emitted from both kerosene heaters and generators can quickly kill you, especially in enclosed areas. If you are using a generator or gas heat to warm up your house, it is crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector. If you do not own a carbon monoxide detector and smell gas or become lightheaded while operating a gas heater or generator, go outside into fresh air immediately. The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning could cost your and your family’s lives.
Have a professional inspect your furnace. Make sure your furnace is exhausting properly to prevent carbon monoxide leakage into your home. At least once a year, you should have your furnace serviced by a professional and have them check for any leaks and ensure that the machine is in safe, working order. The technician should have a checklist of hazards to look out for in your furnace, such as checking the air filter, looking for leaks and blockages, and examining electrical connections. Additionally, they should check the vent pipe and release any built-up gas.
Carefully maintain your fireplace. Before lighting up your fireplace for the winter and holiday seasons, it is important to ensure that your fireplace is clean and inspected, regardless of whether it burns wood or gas. Rust buildup and cracks in gas units can lead to carbon monoxide leaks, and creosote buildup in wood fireplaces can cause combustion. Either of these scenarios can lead to a chimney fire, which is an extremely jarring experience that can cause significant damage to your home. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, it is important to know which wood to use for the safety of yourself and others. It is best to opt for oak and avoid pine. Let it sit for at least a year before using it to prevent heavy smoke when burning. Additionally, avoid using wood and materials that aren’t intended for burning in your fireplace. “Scrap” wood from unrelated projects could be “pressure-treated” or treated with chemicals that could potentially combust or release toxic gases when burned within the confines of your home.
Personal Injury Attorneys in The Carolinas Who Put Safety First
Since 1979, the attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson have been helping the good people of The Carolinas recover compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury caused by a kerosene heater, generator, or other home heating system, our fire and burn injury lawyers may be able to help. Submit an inquiry form on our website or call our office at 800-533-6845 for a free legal consultation today.