Kerosene, Safe? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I know that Kerosene is reasonably safe to store however is it safe to burn in an enclosed area. I have heard something about fumes or emissions. I don't want to asphixiate my family in the process of saving them from Y2K.

-- Hadassah Victor (, October 19, 1998


My aunt has a congenital heart defect, and was told that people with heart problems should not use kerosene in their homes.

-- madeline (, October 19, 1998.

Try here: http://www.cdc .gov/niosh/nasd/docs2/as25100.html

A battery operated carbon monoxide detector would be a good safety device to have.

-- Mike (, October 19, 1998.

They can be operated safely but you (and your family) are the one(s) solely responsible for insuring that this happens. Take that responsibility very seriously.

Make sure you purchase a quality heater. Then make absolutely sure you COMPLETELY read the owners manual and ALL the safety information provided. Then make sure all your family members who are capable read AND UNDERSTAND the safety instructions. These heaters get very hot and little ones can easily be seriously injured if they are allowed to play in the same area as the heater. There is a learning curve to using them safely so make sure you practice using it BEFORE you need it.

Make safety THE top priority. Make sure your entire family knows the safety rules and follow them religeously.

For example, these heaters burn kerosene and kerosene requires oxygen to burn. Where does it get the oxygen? From the air in the room. Therefor, never operate the heater in a completely enclosed space -- make sure there is a least some ventilation to the room -- crack a window or something to allow fresh air into the room. Don't allow children to close the crack in the window because 'a cold breeze was coming in'.

Invest in an APPROPRIATE fire extinguisher and always keep it handy. Make sure every one knows where it is and how to use it.

Buy at least a couple of extra wicks and practice replacing them.

Use ONLY the recommended fuel (almost always grade 1-K kerosene). Do not substitute anything else. Never mix fuels. Never use an additive that isn't specifically made for 1-K kerosene (and intended for heater-type applications).

Look for a heater that has a 'shuts off automatically if bumped or tipped over switch'.

Never refill the heater while it is operating. Never refill it without taking it outside (if it's the typical free standing variety).

Never allow children to operate the heater or 'play with the knobs'. No means no. Period.

Also pay very close attention to combustible material in the area and never let it get close to the heater (even momentarily).

Get a pair of thick leather gloves for moving the heater when it is hot (AFTER you've shut it off of course).

Pay attention to it as it burns -- the wick often needs adjustment.

Follow the recommended maintenance schedule - including periodic 'dry burning' of the wick to remove carbon build up (and make sure you do that outside).

If there are children/adolescents in the house, they must never be allowed to take a cavalier attitude. Again, no must mean no. I can't tell you the number of times I've been in a supermarket watching a child run up and down terrorizing the isles with one parent or the other say repeatly "don't do that, don't do that, don't do that, don't do that, don't do that, " The child never stops 'doing that' because they know there are really no consequences to 'doing that'. With a kerosene heater, I assure you that there are very real, very serious consequences to 'doing that'. (When I was a child, we got ONE and only only one 'don't do that'. We knew there would be consequences if the behavior continued and we knew we wouldn't like them. In all my childhood years, I don't ever remember a second "don't do that" - but I do often remember the consequences of not listening the first time.)

Kerosene heaters are a very useful tool and, operated properly, they can be a very viable option. But operated incorrectly or without paying full attention to safety, they can have serious or tragic consequences. Treat the heater exactly the same as any responsible firearms owner treats their weapons -- i.e. with the utmost respect and regard for safety. It's not just a simple a 'buying the heater and pushing the button'.

Do these things (and more) and you will have a very useful tool for cold times. May you and your family stay warm.


PS. Yes, I own two of them.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 20, 1998.

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