Follow product guidelines when heating barns and farm outbuildings

RICHMOND—When the weather turns cold, some farmers begin working more often in unheated barns and workshops. Many also begin using wood-burning stoves or space heaters, which can present safety concerns.

“Heating in a workshop, garage or barn is no different than using supplemental heating in your home—you need to do it safely,” said Jimmy Maass, safety manager for Virginia Farm Bureau.

First, Maass said, carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions that came with the stove or heater. Then consider the building in which it will be used.

“Heaters should not be used in buildings where hay, straw or other flammable materials are stored; this could lead to a fire that not only causes you to lose your building, but your animals,” Maass said.

The area to be heated should be well-ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the wood stove or space heater is listed by a recognized testing laboratory, and keep it at least 3 feet away from all combustibles. Never set anything on top of a space heater.

When using a fuel-burning space heater, use the fuel specified by the manufacturer. Refuel heaters outside or in a well-ventilated area, and allow the appliance to cool before refueling, Maass said.

When using a wood stove, it is important to have the chimney cleaned by a certified professional prior to each heating season. It also is important to use only seasoned and dry wood. Never use gasoline or other liquid fuels to start a fire, and do not leave a fire unattended.

Contact Maass  at 804-290-1379.

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