Emergency Heating --- Be Careful of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!

   

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas that can build up in your blood cells as you breathe. It may reach toxic levels in minutes or over several hours. Early symptoms of poisoning include dizziness, headache and/or nausea.

People who are sleeping are likely to be more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning since they will not recognize the symptoms. Just getting out in the open air doesn’t eliminate carbon monoxide from your body. It takes 10 to 24 hours, so suffocation may even occur after you have left areas with high levels of carbon monoxide.

 

NOTE: 

All homes should have battery-operated smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors with alarms installed. Check batteries regularly.

Staying Warm in an Unheated House

Unvented Portable Kerosene Heaters

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Unvented Portable Kerosene Heaters, #9026

Small portable heaters can provide localized or emergency heat for homes, cottages and service buildings. Kerosene heaters require good judgment and safety practices. This publication answers typical questions about kerosene heaters, lists positive and negative aspects, and suggests practices to follow when using a portable unvented heater.

 

What are the hazards of using these heaters in homes?

This type of heater produces an open flame in a confined area, which creates three recognized hazards. It:

 

Do I really have to have an open window or keep a door ajar to use these heaters safely?

Yes, you really should provide outside air. According to the Canadian Standards Association, ventilation should be four times greater per 1,000 Btu/hr for unvented heaters than for vented heaters. Furnaces connected to chimney flue draw outside air into the house (by infiltration) as air moves up the chimney. Unvented heaters do not. Providing outside ventilation is a reason for concern since we try to make our homes airtight.

Opening a door to an adjacent room may not provide enough ventilation in an airtight house with very low air exchange rates. This could result in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) and other by-products of combustion. Battery-operated CO detectors with alarms will alert you to dangerous levels of CO, and should be installed in any enclosed area where a kerosene heater is being operated.

 

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas that can build up in your blood cells as you breathe. It may reach toxic levels in minutes or over several hours. Early symptoms of poisoning include dizziness, headache and/or nausea.

People who are sleeping are likely to be more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning since they will not recognize the symptoms. Just getting out in the open air doesn’t eliminate carbon monoxide from your body. It takes 10 to 24 hours, so suffocation may even occur after you have left areas with high levels of carbon monoxide.

 

If I store fuel in an unheated area, such as a garage, will this create a problem?

Yes, it can. As the fuel warms, it expands. Since it has nowhere to go, excess fuel is pushed into the burn chamber. This can create a flame larger than the unit can contain and result in a house fire. Remember, when refueling, do not fill the heater’s fuel tank completely since cold kerosene expands as it warms.

 

Guidelines for Choosing Portable Kerosene Heaters

When selecting a portable kerosene heater, here are some guidelines:

 

Using a Kerosene Heater

 


Staying Warm in an Unheated House, #9022

During severe winter storms, your home heating system could be inoperative for as long as several days. To minimize discomfort and possible health problems during this time, conserve body heat by dressing warmly; find or improvise an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace or electric space heater; confine heating to a single room; and keep safety a foremost consideration. While chances of freezing to death in your home are small, there's a greater danger of death by fire, lack of oxygen or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Think "Safety First"

Safety is critical in a heating emergency. Follow these precautions:

Conserve Body Heat

Put on extra clothing. If cold is severe, your bed may be the warmest place. Use extra blankets and coverings to trap body heat; this is an especially good way to keep children warm. Farm families might consider taking refuge in a warm livestock barn.

Find or Improvise an Alternative Heat Source

You may have alternative heating resources around your home. Possibilities include:

Make sure you have a backup plan if you can’t find a safe way to stay warm. Staying with relatives or going to a designated shelter might be an option.

Provide Fuel

Some common materials that could be used for fuel include:

You can burn coal in a fireplace or stove if you make a grate to hold it, and allow air to circulate underneath. "Hardware cloth" screening placed on a standard wood grate will keep coal from falling through. Tightly rolled newspapers and magazines can be used as paper "logs." Stack them as you would firewood to allow for air circulation. If the heating situation becomes critical, consider burning wood, including lumber and furniture.

Select a Room to be Heated

Close off all rooms except the one to be heated. When choosing a room, consider the following:

 

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