With the continued cold, damp weather, Oak Bay Fire Department reminds residents to following safety precautions when using heating equipment.
Always have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters and supervise children around fireplaces, fire pits or other space heaters. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, even more common than flame burns, notes Capt. Rob Kivell, Oak Bay’s fire prevention officer.
Keep anything that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
Use equipment with a recognized testing laboratory label and never use your oven for heating.
Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
Ensure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely and poisoning can cause illness and even death. Exhaust venting must be kept clear and unobstructed.
Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
Portable electric space heaters
Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room and choose portable space heaters with an automatic shut-off in case they’re tipped over, Kivell says.
Place space heaters on solid, flat surface and plug directly into outlets, never into an extension cord.
Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.
Fuel-burning space heaters
Always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer and in portable kerosene or other liquid-fueled heaters, always use the proper grade of the proper fuel.
When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside or in a well-ventilated area.
When using the heater, open a window to ensure proper ventilation.
All new, unvented gas-fired space heaters have an oxygen-depletion sensor that detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. If you have an older heater without this feature, replace it, Kivell says.
If a gas heater pilot light goes out, wait five minutes or more for the gas to disipate before trying again. Don’t allow gas to accumulate. To avoid flashback, light the match before turning on the gas to the pilot.
If you smell gas in your gas heater, don’t try to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls, open doors and window and call a gas service person.
Choose wood stoves bearing the label of a recognized testing laboratory and install following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
Start the fire with newspaper or kindling, never with a flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline. Keep stove doors closed unless loading or stoking the fire.
Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a tightly covered metal container kept at least 10 feet from the home and any other nearby buildings. Douse and saturate with water.
Clean and inspect chimneys and vents at least once a year.
For more information call Oak Bay’s Fire Prevention Division at 250-592-9121.