Losing power due to snow and ice storms during the winter can be a major inconvenience, especially if power loss leaves you without a way to heat your building(s). While having a backup plan to keep your building warm is important, it’s also crucial to consider the safety risks associated with popular alternative heating methods. Learn the safest and most dangerous ways to heat your facility when the power goes out.
A backup generator or portable generator can be a safe option for heating your building without power. It’s important that you’re aware these devices run on gasoline, propane, or natural gas to provide electricity for lighting, heating, or running appliances. Ideally, generators will be set up and installed by a certified electrician. It’s crucial to safely use generators by following the manufacturer’s instructions and adhering to the following guidelines:
Never use a generator inside your facility as carbon monoxide fumes can be deadly.
Keep the generator at least 20 feet away from your building.
Plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated, properly grounded extension cords.
Allow generators to cool completely before refueling.
If the generator is not equipped to power your facility’s HVAC system, portable heaters are an excellent option for warming smaller spaces. These heaters can be plugged into generators and use either radiators, fan-forced heaters, ceramic heaters, or infrared heaters to increase air temperature. Here are steps to take to ensure the proper use of portable electric heaters:
Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory (UL rated).
Keep the heater at least three feet away from anything that can catch fire.
Choose a heater with a thermostat, overheat protection, tip detection, and auto shut-off.
Place the heater on a solid, flat surface and out of the way of foot traffic.
Never leave portable heaters unattended; always unplug heaters when not in use.
Wood Pellet Stoves
Another safe option for heating a building without power is with a wood pellet stove. Wood pellet stoves burn compressed wood pellets to produce heat. These stoves can be a safe and cost-effective way to heat a building if used and maintained properly. The NFPA recommends the following guidelines for using wood pellet stoves safely:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and operation.
Only burn dry, seasoned wood pellets in your stove.
Keep the stove clean and free of debris, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and maintenance.
If not already installed, install carbon monoxide detectors near the stove and test detectors regularly.
Less Safe Heating Methods
If your facility is residential or houses commercial cooking equipment, it may be tempting to use ovens or non-wood stoves to heat your building. While these appliances produce heat, they are not intended to be used as space heating elements. Ovens or stoves are inefficient in this role and can even cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Portable Gas Heaters
Portable gas heaters are an excellent option for outdoor heating spaces but are dangerous to operate indoors. When used indoors, these heaters do not have the ventilation required to safely run safely. The level of CO2 emitted is dangerous for humans, and potential gas leaks increase the potential for a fire incident in your facility.
Fire Systems, Inc.
The best line of defense against fires in your facility is regularly testing and maintaining all aspects of your fire protection system. Fire Systems, Inc., the Atlanta area’s trusted all-services fire protection company, can help you do just that. Our highly trained technicians will see you through every step of the process: from design to installation, inspection, maintenance, and beyond.