Animal Warming Safety

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Keeping your animals warm in the winter is key to their survival. But if not done safely, their heat source could start a fire. 


Many of us in Central Oregon have chickens, pigs, dogs, horses, birds and many other animals that don't always live inside the house with us. But with our cold winter nights, we want to keep them warm and safe. Here are some tips to prevent fires caused by heating devices:

Heat lamps

A very common way to keep animals warm is to use heat lamps. These are an inexpensive way of keeping animals warm. But they can very easily start a fire. A few simple tips can prevent this from happening.

  • Keep the lamp away from combustibles. Includes wood shavings and bedding.
  • Secure lamp so it can't fall. A common type is a clamp style lamp. These clamps can loosen as the lamp heats up and fall. By securing the clamp to what its attached to with a screw, zip tie or similar can prevent the lamp from accidentally falling.
  • Only use the approved size bulb for the lamp. 
  • Plug the lamps into an outlet or surge protector. Avoid using extension cords.
  • We suggest installing a plug in thermostat for the lamps. This keeps them from running unnecessarily long and makes them more efficient. Search "plug in thermostat" in any search engine. 

Water heaters (trough heaters)

Keeping liquid water for animals in the winter can be tricky. Most water or trough heaters will keep the water at 40 degs so it won't freeze. 

  • Keep electrical connections away from areas where water can pool.
  • Ensure the heating element is kept away from combustibles such as bedding.
  • Replace the unit if the wiring is damaged. 
  • Plug them into an outlet or surge protector. Avoid using extension cords.

Alternatives for heating

With heat lamps being a leading cause of fires in animal enclosures, finding a way to not use heat lamps can drastically improve the safety of the set up.

  • Follow best practices for keeping animals warm in the winter. Many experts agree that heating a chicken coop is not needed unless it drops well below freezing. The less time you are heating the space, the less chances of a fire. 
  • Look for safer heating options such as a radiant or convection type heater. These don't get as hot as bulbs but still provide the heat needed to cut the chill of the winter. Search "chicken coop heater" for lots of non-heat lamp heating options. Can be used for all types of animals as well. 
  • Ensure your pets area is protected from the elements and wind. Wind and moisture in the animals area can mute any attempt to keep them warm. Maintain the enclosures year round.
  • Place heating units on a thermostat. There are lots of plug in style thermostats on the market that limit the use of the heater to when it is needed. Most will turn off when the temperature gets above 40 and turn back on when the temperature drops below 35-40 degs. This is great for days where its 30 at night and 70 during the day. Definitely improves efficiency and cost effectiveness of heating your pets area. 
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