5 Critical Safety Tips You Should Never Ignore When Using Portable Propane Heating Indoors

Heating your home during the winter can be difficult, especially with the rising costs of electricity and natural gas. Propane heating is affordable and efficient, but if your home isn't set up for propane, you'll need to use portable propane heating devices. These types of heaters have rigorous safety guidelines that must be followed in order to prevent problematic and potentially dangerous situations. Use these 5 critical safety tips to ensure you and your family are safe when using a portable propane heater indoors.

1. Always Use an Indoor Model 

All propane heaters produce carbon monoxide. However, heater models that are approved for indoor use produce significantly lower amounts of carbon monoxide than models that are intended to be used outdoors. Never bring a portable propane heating appliance that is meant to be used outside indoors. When using an indoor model, you still want to ensure that you are using the heater in a large, open space and there is plenty of air flow in the room.

2. Use a Model With a Carbon Monoxide Alarm (or Install One Yourself) 

If you're using a portable propane heater indoors, it's absolutely imperative that it has a carbon monoxide alarm. If the model of heater you are using doesn't already have one, you can install one yourself at an affordable cost. Carbon monoxide is a deadly but odorless gas that doesn't cause any symptoms until there's a dangerous amount of it in the air already. Carbon monoxide alarms have extremely sensitive sensors that are programmed to detect low levels of the gas before it causes symptoms, so be sure to heed the alarm when it sounds and get to fresh air as quickly as possible.

3. Remember the "3 Feet From the Heat" Rule

Portable space heaters of any kind -- propane included -- should be kept 3 feet away from anything that is flammable or combustible. This includes blankets, pillows, chairs, pets and children. Pets, children and adults can easily be burned by portable heaters, and blankets or pillows that are left close to the heater can start a fire. Always place a portable propane heater on a solid surface, away from drapes and furniture.

4. Never Use a Propane Heater While Sleeping 

Propane heaters become exponentially more dangerous when used while sleeping, especially if you're using them indoors. While some portable heaters have sensors that will automatically shut the unit off if it becomes too hot or gets knocked over, it's really not worth the risk. The prospect of burns, fires and carbon monoxide poisoning is higher when a portable propane heating device isn't being monitored closely, and response time is much lower when you're asleep if something does happen. Switch to an alternative heat source at night, or keep the room you're in well insulated to hold in the heat that accumulated during the day. 

5. Check Your Heater Frequently For Propane Leaks

Although propane is an odorless gas, a chemical called ethyl mercaptan is added to it to produce a scent. The smell, much like rotten eggs, can be detected when propane is leaking. Check your portable heater for propane leaks frequently, and if you smell a foul odor or the scent of rotten eggs at any time when using your heater, shut it off and get to fresh air immediately. Allow the area to ventilate well before going back in.

Heating your home during the winter doesn't have to be impossible with the help of portable propane heaters. However, be absolutely certain to read the manufacturer's directions or find out more here for the use of your device and follow all precautions to ensure that you have both a warm and safe winter.

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