From the Fire and Life Safety Public Information Office
(Anchorage) As winter approaches and the cost of heating Alaskan homes increases, many Alaskans are turning to alternative fuels to heat their homes. Heating oil, propane, natural gas and electricity are the common energies used to heat Alaska homes but as prices go up on these fuels, Alaskans are turning to woodstoves and coal burning stoves to help heat their homes.
New technologies have improved the efficiency and safety of these old standby heat sources, but improper use and the failure to follow manufacturer guidelines can result in a disaster for the occupants of the home.
Just as it is important to use dry seasoned wood in a woodstove to prevent the buildup of creosote in the chimney, it is just as important to check the moisture content in the type of coal that you are burning. Only use a grade of coal that is recommended by the manufacturer of your heating equipment and do not put coal in a heating device that is not recommended to burn coal. Make sure that your wood or coal burning stove has been tested and approved by a third party testing laboratory such as UL. The grade and moisture content of coal should be available from your local coal supplier.
Following these simple guidelines can help Alaskans heat their homes economically and in a safe manner. Other safety tips to remember are:
Keep combustibles at least 36 inches away from heat sources.
Keep matches and lighters stored out of children’s reach.
Clean and inspect the chimney regularly during the heating season.
Check all smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms monthly.
Alaska State Fire Marshal Kelly Nicolello adds, “Fire safe behavior can keep a fire from starting. Working smoke alarms, planning and practicing your fire escape plan and adding residential fire suppression sprinklers can ensure your family’s safety from a fire.”
For more information contact Mahlon Greene (907) 746-5062