Use caution when heating your home this winter – read these safety tips

Stock photo: firefighters work to extinguish a house fire. (Supplied by DEMS)

According to William Ntladi, district manager media liaison: Emergency Services for Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS), comments that heating sources need to be considered carefully and the correct precautions taken to ensure that injuries and deaths are prevented.

Also read: Police issue winter safety tips

He offers the following tips for a safer, warmer winter:

Heaters:

• When setting up a space heater, remember to keep it away from any flammable or combustible materials and place it on the floor, unless it is designed otherwise.

• The heater shouldn’t be left unmonitored. It is still far too common for people to leave their heaters on while no one is present either at home or offices through the day or overnight.

• Areas, where heaters are used, should be free of flammable liquids. Do not put them on easily ignitable or combustible surfaces, such as rugs or carpets, or use them to dry wet clothing.

• When using a fuel-fired heater in an enclosed area, it is a good idea to leave a window or door partially open to allow for fresh air to enter. This will help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup or a depletion of oxygen levels. Never take a gas-fired or kerosene heater into a confined space as the results could be deadly.

Stock image of damage caused by a gas heater. (Supplied by DEMS)

• All unvented fuel-fired heaters should be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). The ODS will shut off the heater if it detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is being used.

• For natural gas or propane-fired space heaters, remember the following safety tips:

• If you smell gas, do not attempt to light the heater. Turn off all controls, open a window or door and leave the area.

• Remember that, unlike natural gas, propane is heavier than air and does not dissipate rapidly. If you smell gas, do not touch any electrical switches or use an electrical appliance, radio or telephone in the area you smell gas. Do not smoke. A spark could ignite the gas.

• Electric heaters should be kept out of wet or moist places like bathrooms as water could lead to a fire or shock hazard. Also, be sure to plug electric space heaters directly into an outlet since using extension cords could result in overheating and fire.

• Be sure to clean your heater regularly, and follow your manufacturer’s guide for specific advice on maintenance and inspection.

Also read: Paraffin safety tips for this winter

• Keep the inside of your home or business safe with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

• Many people still use braziers or coal stoves to keep warm during winter. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide are part of other gases emitted out of the burning coals and are killer gases because they are not easily detectable. The usage of a carbon monoxide detector is therefore advisable.

The golden rule is to keep the window or door opened and never sleep with the burning coal stove, brazier or fireplace.

“To help make your winter even safer, we recommend that you take the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you and your family can get out safely,” Ntladi says.

A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous and odourless gas.

In an emergency call 10177 which is a national toll-free number or 112 from a cellphone.

Call 011 458 0911 for life-threatening emergencies within Ekurhuleni.

 

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