According to the U.S. Fire Administration,

Ovens are the #1 reason for household fires and injuries in the U.S.

When used for heat, a gas oven can cause a build up of carbon monoxide, an odorless gas, which will kill you. They are not designed to be operated with the oven door open or for days at a time.

Headaches, drowsiness, nausea and disorientation are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kerosene heaters, though legal for residential use in Philadelphia, are not much better. They also emit dangerous gases and need to be well ventillated near an open window and at least 3 feet from flammable materials. They are also hot to the touch which means that they can burn small children or pets. Kerosene is not explosive like gasoline but it is highly flammable, so the heaters should not be filled indoors in case of a spill.

Electric space heaters are much safer than combustible heaters, if the household wiring is up to date. They are ideal as supplemental heat for small rooms but should never be left unattended. They should not be used in outlets which spark or when they frequently trip circuit breakers. They also must be kept on the floor and away from flammable materials like curtains or furniture. Try to find a heater with a tip over switch which automatically shuts it off if it is tipped over.

Smoke detectors are essential, and carbon monoxide detectors are now required in Philadelphia.

They should be operable in hallways on each floor and ideally inside each bedroom. If they are not hard wired to the electrical system the batteries should be replaced annually by the occupants. Every apartment and house should have a fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen. However, only use it to put out a small fire or to help you evacuate. Leave the fire fighting to the experts.

Don’t let the lack of heat burn you up! Insist that your landlord repair any heater problems right away.

Read more about heat requirements