Low-income Kentuckians can get help to heat their homes safely and efficiently from the state Weatherization Program, which inspects heating systems and insulation and checks for various household safety issues.
“Safety is the No. 1 priority of our inspectors,“ Flowers said. Even homes that don’t meet eligibility requirements will get a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector, he said.
The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fund the program through the cabinet, which partners with 22 of the state’s 23 community action agencies (CAAs) and the Louisville Metro government to administer the work in every county. Local weatherization teams, contractors or utility crews will do the work.
The program helps 2,200 households and 5,000 Kentuckians each year.
Flowers said weatherization coordinators remind families with space heaters to allow proper clearance. “We go into homes where there is furniture, carpet or piles of clothes right next to the system,” he said.
Storing fuel inside the house is another common mistake, Flowers said.
A power failure introduces a new set of safety concerns.
“If you’re burning candles and running an emergency heater, a main concern is oxygen deprivation,” he said.
Any fuel-burning appliance or device can produce high levels of carbon monoxide, and the potential for poisoning is greater in the winter when homes are tightly sealed
If possible, choose appliances that vent fumes to the outside. But if your gas or kerosene heater is unvented, use proper fuel and carefully follow device instructions. Don’t sleep in an enclosed space with such space heaters.
For more information about and eligibility requirements for the Weatherization Program, log onto http://cfc.state.ky.us/help/weatherization.asp.
· Have your chimney inspected by a professional every year. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a fire if the chimney is not properly cleaned.
· Always protect your family and home by using a sturdy screen when burning fires.
· Remember to burn only wood -- never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out of the chimney and ignite a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes.
· Be sure your wood or coal stove is labeled by a recognized testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for proper use and maintenance.
· Chimney connections and flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned if necessary.
· Burn only wood, and be sure the stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and hot coals. Be sure to check with your local fire department and check local codes before installation.
· Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people.
· Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed.
· Don’t leave children or pets unattended with space heaters.
· Make sure any gas-fueled heating device is adequately ventilated. Unventilated gas space heaters in bedrooms or bathrooms must be small and well-mounted. Never use liquefied-petroleum gas heaters with self-contained fuel supplies indoors.
· Don’t dry wet gloves or other clothing over space heaters. Make sure everyone knows this is a fire hazard.