Follow product guidelines and use caution with heating appliances

Follow product guidelines and use caution with heating appliances
RICHMOND—When the weather turns cold, some farmers and homeowners spend time in unheated barns or workshops, and some rely on wood-burning stoves or space heaters to heat the buildings.

“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 Kevin Bartal, Virginia Farm Bureau safety coordinator.

Using a wood-burning stove or a propane or electric space heater in those spaces still requires safety precautions like following the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the appliance.

“Heaters should not be used in buildings where hay, straw or other flammable materials or liquids are stored,” Bartal noted. “A heater should be nowhere near a stack of hay.”

The area to be heated should be well-ventilated to avoid the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas,” Bartal explained. “You cannot smell it, so installing a carbon monoxide detector is the easiest and only way to detect carbon monoxide. If you experience a headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain or confusion, which are signs of significant carbon monoxide exposure, leave the area and call for help immediately.”

The heating area should always be kept clean 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.

Heaters should be kept at least 3 feet away from all combustibles; never put anything on top of a space heater.

When using a fuel-burning space heater, use the proper fuel as 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,” Bartal added.

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. Do not use gasoline or other liquid fuels to start a fire, and never leave a fire unattended.

Media: Contact Virginia Farm Bureau’s safety staff at 804-290-1376, or Sara Owens, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1133.

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