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One thing I would like to know, is @charset “utf-8”; necessary in CSS?

It depends on if your server already sends those headers (you can set it in .htaccess) and if you encode your CSS file as utf-8 while saving. There are other factors too, and I’m no expert in character encoding, but I personally have never used it.
Further info: and

if I should make a back up copy first, play with it in a subdirectory before putting it into the main. Once you mess with the css sheets, it messes the whole site since it’s attached to every page.

Yes, backups are good. Always make those.

what method would you use to make sure it’s all good first…

It depends how you like to work – you could make a complete backup of your website on a subdomain, or have a Git setup that you can branch, or just copy the files you’re going to edit into another folder on your computer. The last option could be fine in this case.

For now, concentrate on moving those internal styles from the head into ‘fluid.css’ so that you can resize the h1 / h2 titles. And also fix the missing curly bracket in ‘boilerplate.css’ that Aterlierbram pointed out to see how that affects things.