The nice, mild weather we have been fortunate to have will soon be ending. Beginning this Friday, temperatures will start to fall, with lows around 29 degrees Saturday night into Sunday morning. The dreaded S-word (snow) is also in the forecast for Saturday. With cold temperatures on the way, everyone will be looking for ways to stay warm. For a few folks, that may include turning on the furnace for the first time or utilizing other alternate heating sources such as fireplaces, space heaters, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters. But did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths and carbon monoxide poisoning? However, by taking the necessary precautions you can prevent most tragedies from occurring.
Here are some simple safety tips:
• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment and keep children at least three (3) feet away.
• Never use your oven to heat your home
• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
• Never refuel heaters indoors.
• All heaters that run on fuel should be vented.
• Before purchasing a portable heater, make sure it has “tip switches.” These switches are designed to automatically shut off the heating unit in the event it tips over.
• Remember to always turn portable heaters off when leaving the house or before going to bed.
• Glass doors or a metal screen should be placed in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks or hot ash from igniting carpets, furniture, or other combustible items.
• Do not burn charcoal designed for barbeque grills indoors not even in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. It releases odorless, but toxic, carbon monoxide fumes that can cause death.
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, as well as near every bedroom in the home and check the alarms monthly to be sure they are working properly. Remember to change batteries at least once a year.
• Install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector.
• Develop a family emergency plan that includes what action family members should take in case of a fire, and then practice it to make sure everyone knows what to do.
Remember by following these few simple safety tips, you can stay safe and keep warm when old man winter comes a knocking.
For more information on heating safety or emergency preparedness, contact the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency at 574-936-3740.
Disaster preparedness is everyone's responsibility!