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Get Ready for Winter II: Amica Insurance offers tips

11/07/2011

LINCOLN, RI – Rising heating costs have many homeowners scrambling for ways to save money this winter, including seeking alternative ways to heat their homes. But Amica Insurance reminds everyone to make sure their heating systems are running safely.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths and almost half of home heating fires occur during the winter months of December, January and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Whether you’re using wood stoves, space heaters or another type of heating source, make sure you’re using them safely to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Sean Welch, a senior assistant vice president with Amica.

Homeowners should arrange for a professional to inspect and clean their heating systems, including vents and chimneys, to help identify any potential problems or fire hazards, said Welch.

Amica Insurance, the National Fire Protection Association and other public safety organizations also offer these tips and reminders:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing or using any type of heating system.
  • Remove flammable material around your heating source.
  • Make sure your heating system is properly ventilated.
  • Take special care when using portable heaters and make sure to turn them off when you leave the room.
  • Make sure a carbon monoxide alarm and a fire alarm are near your heating system. Test them monthly.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible area near your heating system.
  • Never use a gas oven for heating.

Take extra care when using fireplaces and wood stoves, Welch said. Make sure to have your fireplace, wood stove and chimney cleaned and inspected for cracks and creosote build-up. Here are some other reminders:

  • Use properly seasoned wood to avoid creosote build-up.
  • Use paper and kindling to ignite a fire. Avoid using lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline.
  • Build small fires that will burn completely, with little smoke.
  • Use screens and doors on fireplaces to control sparks.
  • Supervise children and pets around fireplaces and wood stoves.
  • Make sure fires in your fireplace or wood stove fire are out before going to bed or leaving the house.

Unfortunately, winter storms often bring loss of power too, Welch said. So if you’re using a generator to power your heating system, here are a few additional tips to consider:

  • Never use a generator inside a home, garage or other enclosed buildings and structures.
  • Plug the generator in with a heavy-duty outdoor-rated power cord. Never plug the generator in to your home electrical outlets.
  • Store fuel far away from the generator.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep the generator dry.

Use your generator far away from vents and windows, Welch said. And if you’re using a generator and you start to feel weak or dizzy, get to fresh air right away. Carbon monoxide from the generator exhaust can cause serious injury and even death, he said.

“It doesn’t matter what type of fuel you use to heat your home, you need to make sure it will keep your family safe and warm this winter, ” Welch said.

For more information on protecting your home for winter, visit www.disastersafety.org.

About Amica

Amica Mutual Insurance Company, the nation's oldest mutual insurer of automobiles, was founded in 1907. The company, with corporate headquarters in Lincoln, RI, is a national writer of automobile, homeowners, marine and personal umbrella liability insurance. Life coverage is available through Amica Life Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary. Amica employs more than 3,100 people in 40 offices across the country.

CONTACT:Vince Burks, Corporate Communications, 50 Amica Way,

Lincoln, RI 02865-1155, 800-652-6422, ext. 24563

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