How Safe Is Your Winter Heating Defense?

Jan. 17, 2012 - Is the chill of winter creeping in and around your house? The best defense is making sure your home’s heating system is maintained properly. Follow these tips for extra efficiency and warmth:

  • Have a professional inspect your heating system once per year, before winter hits.
  • Replace air filters often, per the manufacturer’s recommendation (the professional who inspects your heating system can tell you what’s best).
  • Seal up air leaks and add insulation around the house.
  • Clean registers and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpets or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators.

Alternative heat

Beyond that, some homeowners opt for alternative heating devices, such as space heaters. While these can be comforting and warming, they can also become a fire-hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters are associated with about 33,300 residential fires every year.
 
If you decide to add alternative heating to your regime, make safety a top priority. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) suggests:

  • Look for products tested by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Properly tested and rated stoves will have an attached safety label and an installation.
  • Buy models with automatic shut-off features and heat element guards.
  • Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials, such as bedding, furniture, wall coverings or other flammable items.
  • Do not leave a heater unattended.
  • Check every electrical cord for fraying and cracking. If one looks worn, replace it before using.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in several parts of the house.
  • Never run the heater’s cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.

Other safety suggestions:

  • Never use a kerosene heater indoors.
  • Never use electric or gas stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If using a wood fireplace, have it inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep.
  • When using a gas fireplace, keep the glowing embers and logs clean; inspect and clean the air circulation passages and fan; and avoid obstructing the vents.

Go to disastersafety.org for more information or contact your local ERIE agent for questions about your insurance coverage.  Having insurance should put your mind at ease, knowing that your home, possessions and assets are protected if an accident or loss takes place.


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