Top 5 Safety Tips for Using Kerosene Heaters Indoors

With the winter weather upon us, you may be thinking about investing in a kerosene heater for your home. My family and I had to do just that a few years ago when our furnace broke. I have to say that it worked really well. However, we made sure that before we turned it on we familiarized ourselves with how to use it safely. Here’s a quick look at some of what I learned in the process:

Fueling

One of the first things that I learned about using kerosene heaters was to take special precautions when filling it with fuel. By reading the manual, I discovered that it is important to take the fuel tank outside and fill it with fresh, clear kerosene that’s at room temperature. It is also important that your heating unit is off and at room temperature too. That’s because using cold, old fuel and a hot unit may lead to overfilling issues, damage to the heater and uncontrollable flames. We made sure that we followed those instructions every time. As a result, we never had to deal with those types of problems.

Location

The second thing that I learned was to place the kerosene heater in a safe spot. We chose to place ours in the living room in a well ventilated area that was away from the furniture, fabrics, high traffic areas and drafts. In doing so, we reduced the chances that the heater would get accidently knocked over or inadvertently ignite other items around it. Our choice of location also helped to keep the kerosene smell and byproducts from becoming overwhelming or aggravating my elderly mother-in-law’s preexisting health conditions.

Timing

The third thing that I learned was to use the kerosene heater at certain periods of the day. At the time, we owned a two story house with a full basement and an attic. Thus, once the heater was turned on, it took at least an hour before we’d start to feel warm. Therefore, we would turn the heater on after we got home from work and let it run until bedtime. Then we would shut it off before retiring for the night. On average, that meant that the heater was running for five hours before it got shut off. That duration typically left us with enough warmth in the house to get comfortably through the night. When morning came, we’d turn the heater back on until an hour before it was time to go to work. Doing so gave the unit time to cool down before we left the house. We did that because we were concerned about leaving a warm heater unattended.

Detectors and Extinguishers

The fourth thing that we did was invest in carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and a good quality, Class B fire extinguisher. Then we placed at least one detector on each level of our home and kept the fire extinguisher in close reach. In addition, we made it a point to test and change the batteries in our home’s smoke detectors. In doing so, we reduced the likelihood that we’d experience carbon monoxide poisoning or smoke inhalation should the unit malfunction or ignite something.

Storage

The fifth and last safety precaution that we took was to store the extra fuel in a secure area of the garage. We did that so our pets and children wouldn’t be able to access it in our absence. After all, the fuel is toxic and flammable. We also kept it in a special, sealable, blue container so we wouldn’t accidentally confuse it with another substance. You can typically purchase such containers through hardware stores and home improvement stores.

Source: Personal Experience

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