Follow product guidelines, use caution with heating appliances
December 27, 2012
RICHMOND—When the weather turns cold, some farmers and homeowners spend more time in unheated barns and workshops. To keep warm, many turn to wood-burning stoves or space heaters.
“Heating in a workshop, garage or barn is no different than using supplemental heating in your home, but you need to do it safely,” said Jimmy Maass, safety manager for Virginia Farm Bureau.
Using a wood-burning stove or a propane or electric space heater in those spaces still requires specific safety precautions and carefully following the appliance manufacturer’s instructions.
First, the obvious: “Heaters should not be used in buildings where hay, straw or other flammable materials are stored,” Maass said.
The area to be heated should be well-ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Remember that carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas,” Maass said.
“I’ve had some people tell me they could smell carbon monoxide, and that just isn’t true. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector, and if you experience a headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain or confusion, leave the area and call for help immediately.”
The heating area should be kept clean and clear to avoid fire hazards. Make sure the wood stove or space heater is listed by a recognized testing laboratory and is kept away from sawdust, chemicals and paint. Remember to keep heaters at least 3 feet away from all combustibles, and never put anything on top of a space heater.
When using a fuel-burning heater, use the fuel specified by the manufacturer. Refuel heaters outside or in a well-ventilated area; allow the appliance to cool before refueling.
“It’s important to clean the heating appliance occasionally, following the manufacturer’s recommendations,” Maass said.
When using a wood stove, it is important to have the chimney cleaned by a certified professional prior to each heating season. It also is important to use only seasoned and dry wood. Never use gasoline or other liquid fuels to start a fire, and do not leave a fire unattended.
Contact Maass at 804-290-1379.