Portable heaters are a great way to provide additional heat during winter months. Thus, it is necessary that you know how to safely operate natural gas, propane, electric, or kerosene-fired portable heaters to prevent fires and dangerous inhalation of chemical hazards.
There are a number of ways to minimize the potential dangers of using these devices. One way is safety practices in using portable heaters. Second is maintaining the heaters to minimize inhalation and fire hazards, and burn fuel cleanly. Also, placing the heaters away from foot traffic will reduce the risk of knocking the device over and starting accidental fire.
As part of the safety practices in using portable heaters, you should know which materials should be kept away and with them. Flammable materials should not be left near the heater as they can cause fire. Over time, cloth, paper, wood, and furniture can become hot and burst into flames if left in contact with hot surfaces. So, it is important to use keep them separate from the operating portable heaters. Most portable heaters require at least 3 feet space from the unit to the flammable materials. However, heaters that produce large heat may require more space.
Since portable heaters use kerosene, propane, and natural gas, it produces toxic fumes that pose a health hazard without proper ventilation. As fuel is burned, oxygen is depleted and chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide are produced. So, it is necessary for you to open a door or window to provide adequate ventilation as one of the safety practices in using portable heaters. Larger heaters also require more ventilation.
When using electric heaters, you should not plug them into an extension cord. Two of the main safety hazards, electrical fires and falling over, are associated with this. Thus, you should plug the heater directly to the power outlets or into heavy duty extension cords of at least #14 wires. You can prevent falls by including a tip-over switch as well.
Another one of the safety practices in using portable heaters is keeping them away from flammable materials. Fuel-burning heaters often produce an open flame that can cause combustible materials to be suspended in the air. These heaters should not be used in areas with flammable liquids or dusty environments. They should not be refuelled when still hot. They should be shut off first and wait for 15 minute to cool off.
More importantly, always refuel heaters with the right fuel. Some fuels are more flammable that others and may cause uncontrolled fire when fuelled to the wrong type of heater.
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