Noble McIntyre on December 30, 2014
If you’re here in Oklahoma, you’re waking up this week to news that we’re expecting a chilling cold snap. The forecast includes below freezing temperatures for the metro area through most of the week. Even towards the end of the week, the forecast is for temperatures that go barely above freezing. Along with the cold, we’re expecting freezing rain, sleet and the possibility of ice accumulation, which could lead to power outages.
What that all means is that we all need to be extra careful about how we are heating our homes and keeping our bodies warm if the heat fails. It is suspected that an electric heater could have been the source of a fire that killed a 59-year-old woman in Blanchard over the weekend. Let’s look at some ways to make sure your heat sources are safe.
When the Fahrenheit dips, your heat bill will rise. If you’re concerned about the cost of heating your home this winter, you can give yourself an extra boost with a portable space heater. You could keep your whole-house heat low and heat and average-sized room for as low as $40 by using an electric heater. However, there are risks associated with these appliances. Consumer Reports advises that you make sure that any space heater is labeled UL (Underwriters Laboratory), ETL (Intertek) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association). That means that the heater meets voluntary U.S. safety standards.
As you shop for a space heater, first consider your specific needs. If you’re looking to heat just one or two people at a time, you could get something that does fast spot-heating. A larger heater might be good if you’re heating a large room or group of people. Beware, though – don’t use a propane or kerosene heater unless it’s in a screened porch or well-ventilated area. These heaters emit carbon monoxide, which is toxic indoors and hard to detect. If you’re purchasing an electric space heater, look for these safety features:
Remember that any space heater should be used only on a level surface that is away from foot traffic and at least three feet away from any curtains, bedding or other furnishings. Also, an electric space heater is not intended to be the sole source of heating for your home. It heats only a small, specific area. If the temperature drops below freezing, it won’t prevent problems like frozen pipes, so it’s important to continue to run your furnace, even if you are keeping the house relatively cool. Use your electric heater to supplement your home heat, not replace it. They are for human comfort in a specific room, not for keeping whole houses heated. If you’re going to use an electric space heater, be sure that you have proper smoke detector placement in your home.
If your power goes out, check out our Power Outage Survival guidelines for suggestions as to how to preserve your food, watch for carbon monoxide poisoning and other safety essentials. Stay warm, and stay safe. Happy New Year from McIntyre Law!