With brutally cold temperatures and high heating costs, many people are turning to alternative heating sources to save money. But alternative heating sources like space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves can present hazards if not used correctly, according to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent safety testing organization. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that heating equipment is involved in an estimated 64,100 home fires each year.

In a recent press release, UL offered the following its safety tips for home heating hot spots:

Hot Zone: Space Heaters
  • All heaters need space. Keep items that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed, and never place them in an area where a child is sleeping.
  • Look for the UL Mark when purchasing a space heater, which means it has been tested for safety and includes protective features to lessen the risk of burn or fire hazards.
Hot Zone: Fireplaces
  • Maintain the chimney and flue by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a trained professional.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying into the home.
  • Be alert to the danger signs that signal a carbon monoxide (CO) problem such as the absence of a draft in your chimney, soot falling into the fireplace, or small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent or flue.
Hot Zone: Wood Stoves
  • Keep wood stove doors closed unless loading or stoking the fire.
  • Install wood stove chimney connectors following manufacturer's instructions or have a professional handle the job, as many injuries are the result of improper installation.
Hot Zone: Staying Safe and Warm...
  • Only use heating equipment that has been tested for safety. Products that bear the UL Mark have been tested to UL's stringent safety standards and found to be free of foreseeable hazards.
  • Never use cooking stoves, grills or ovens to heat the home. They could potentially be a fire hazard or cause CO poisoning.
Finally, Drengenberg has one final, practical way to stay warm and be safe. "Help keep warm air moving through your home by putting your ceiling fan on reverse. Fans are set for summer weather so when reversed, will push warm air downward. It's ready for winter when you look up and the blades are turning clockwise."

Learn more about how to keep your family safe from potential hazards caused by alternative home heating methods by visiting www.ul.com/consumers.