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What not to do when it gets cold outside

This cold snap may lead some to take drastic and potentially dangerous measures to stay warm.

It is cold here in New England and not that oh it's January it's suppose to be cold, cold. With the wind chill last night, January 7-8th it was a balmy -29 outside. This may lead many who can't afford to heat there homes through traditional means like heating oil, natural gas, or propane to use unconventional or unsafe measures to stay warm.

You should never ever ever, did I say ever use a cooking appliance such as an oven, stove, or cook top as a source of heat. This refers to opening up an oven door and turning the heat to 100, 200, 300, 400+ degrees.  When it comes to an electric unit, this is a waste of electricity and with electric prices the way they are right now will cost you more in the long run.  If you have a gas fired oven, using it as a heating source is dangerous as carbon monoxide can leak into your home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that when expose to for an extended period of time can lead serious health issues.

Others may resort to the use of space heaters, while these can be a great source of heat in close proximity they still carry risks.  Space heaters should be at least three away from anything from clothing, bedding, and any other substances that may be able to catch on fire. Make sure that you are using the correct model type for your needs, space heaters are available for personal use or whole rooms.  

Recently we saw a news report regarding a fire that was started in an attempt to warm up an outdoor oil tank.  While it is more common to find oil tanks in the basement of homes, there are still older homes with outside oil tanks.  The home owner noticed that the heat wasn't working and believed that the oil in his outside tank had froze.  Even with the extreme temperatures that we saw, home heating oil doesn't freeze at those temperatures. It can however become sludgy, clogging the the fuel line.  In an attempt to unfreeze the oil that he believed was in the tank, the home owner put hay below the tank to act as an insulator.  The home owner then used a blow torch to heat up the tank, the flame from the torch caught the hay on fire, which then spread to the home.  While there isn't much of a risk of creating an explosion from this method, this isn't something that should ever be attempted. Luckily in this situation only minimal damage was caused to the home, however it could have been a lot worse.

When extreme cold sets in it's best to stop and think before you do anything that could be dangerous to in an attempt to stay warm.  If you notice that your heating system isn't working, contact your heating company they are trained and licensed to handle the equipment in your home.

Robert Stahelski

ckSmithSuperior, Santoro Oil, Gas Doctor 

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