COLUMBUS – Winter weather has arrived and with it comes the dangers of safely heating the home.
Since more than half of all home heating fires occur in these winter months, state officials urge Ohioans to keep loved ones safe this winter.
State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon is asking all residents to make sure their homes are fire safe. He said many fire incidents during this time of the year are preventable as long as residents take the proper precautions.
“It may be tempting to use alternative heating right now, but it is also important to do so safely,” Reardon in a prepared statement. “The use of alternative heating sources can greatly increase the chance of a fire occurring. By following some basic safety tips, you can keep yourself and your family safe during this winter weather.”
The State Fire Marshal’s office offers these tips regarding heating safety:
• Use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Alternative heat sources need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
• Make sure your alternative heat sources have ‘tip switches’ These are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
• Do not use your kitchen’s oven or range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
• Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
• Make sure wood stoves are properly installed and at least three feet away from anything that could burn. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
• Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.
• Make certain that your home’s smoke alarms are in proper working order.
• Have a fire escape plan that includes two ways out and a designated meeting place for family members once they are outside the home.
• If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of snow and ice for easy access by the fire department.
Special tips for manufactured housing
Gary Whitaker, investigator for the State Fire Marshal’s Division of Industrial Compliance, said owners of manufactured homes have some additional preparations for winter weather to maintain a safe living space during the colder months.
• Check the skirting around the home to make sure it is intact and undamaged. Various events can cause damage to the skirting of the home (e.g., animals, yard work, weather), which can allow cold air to reach the underbelly/bottom board of the home and increase the risk of a home’s pipes freezing during cold temperatures.
• Check water pipes for adequate electrical heat tape, which helps prevent your pipes from freezing in cold temperatures.
• Make sure nothing (e.g., furniture, paper, etc.) is covering/blocking your heating vents.
• Use draft stoppers to keep gusts of cold air from slipping in beneath your doors.
• Check electrical outlets that can let heat escape your home, especially if cracked. To prevent warm air from leaking through your electrical outlets, turn off the electricity to the outlet, remove the electrical plates, and reseal the insides with caulk to keep warm air indoors.