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Are kerosene furnaces safe for home use?

A:

Quick Answer

Kerosene heaters pose significant safety risks when used to heat a home. Dangers of kerosene heaters include ingestion of the kerosene fuel, the hazards of open flames and the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Full Answer

Accidents related to kerosene heaters quadrupled after the introduction of the modern portable kerosense heater. The majority of these injuries occur to children who drink the kerosene fuel or inhale fumes from the furnace. Both children and elderly adults are also potentially more vulnerable to airborne contaminants emitted by kerosene furnaces.

Kerosene furnaces use an open flame as part of their heating process. This flame poses an obvious safety hazard if any flammable items come in contact with it. In addition, combustible fumes from products such as cleaning solvents or aerosols also pose a risk of fire if used too close to a kerosene furnace.

Perhaps the most dangerous safety hazard posed by home use of a kerosene furnace comes from carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition to particulates and fumes emitted by burning kerosene, a kerosene furnace also produces carbon monoxide when the amount of available oxygen in the air is insufficient to completely burn kerosene. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it is easily possible for toxic or deadly levels of this gas to build up in a room without warning. Carbon monoxide detectors are useful to detect dangerous levels of this gas before it is too late.

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