Kerosene heaters, wood stoves can cost you comfort during cold, winter months

Space heaters and wood stoves are good sources of heat during the cold, winter months. But carelessness and improper use can ruin a festive holiday if safety isn't a priority.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters and wood stoves are associated with 25,000 fires and 300 deaths annually.

Nearly half of the reported fires in one- and two-family dwellings are attributed to the use of solid-fuel appliances. These accidents cost homeowners thousands of dollars in damage and loss.

Fuel-burning heaters, such as kerosene heaters, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor air pollution due to improper venting or incomplete combustion.

As temperatures continue to dip below freezing, NW Insurance Council encourages those who burn wood or kerosene as a source of heat to first follow these helpful tips:
  • Notify your insurance company or agent before you purchase a wood-burning appliance or begin to install it. Be sure to ask about any special requirements.
  • Install your wood-burning appliance correctly. Obtain a building permit, follow the building code and manufacturer's recommendations and conform to any special requirements of your insurance company.
  • Use your wood-burning appliance safely. Burn proper fuels - no milk cartons, other trash or Christmas trees. These materials can lead to dangerous soot buildup that can cause chimney fires.
  • Maintain your wood-burning appliance on a regular basis. Inspect the appliance and chimney for cracks or corrosion. Sweep the chimney and check your fire extinguisher at least once a year - before the burning season.

Here are a few safety tips when using a kerosene heater:

  • Place heaters near the center of rooms away from furniture, drapes and other combustibles.
  • Children and pets should be kept a safe distance from heaters.
  • Be sure to follow the manufacturers' instructions while using a kerosene heater.
  • Maintain a constant source of fresh air. Make sure rooms are adequately ventilated before using heaters. Kerosene heaters consume oxygen as they burn. If they are operated in a small room or in an inadequate ventilated place, oxygen levels could be reduced to dangerous levels. Keeping doors to other rooms open will help provide more fresh air.

Homeowners Insurance policies cover damage or loss caused by wood stoves or space heaters, but each company may have unique features in its policies. Check with your agent or insurance company to learn more about your coverage.

For more information about insurance and fuel-burning heaters, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.


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