We are fortunate in our community that despite our small size, we have access to some of the best public safety services in the region.
Our fire and police divisions train throughout the year to handle any situation that may arise. While we do have staff on shift 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is important to take steps in our own lives to prevent emergencies from happening. At a time when temperatures are at the coldest of the year, fire prevention and safety are topics at the forefront of our minds.
First and foremost, our thoughts are with all who were impacted by the deadly fire in New York City in January. It is a horrific and sobering reminder of the potential harm heating devices can cause and how quickly a fire can spread. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating is the second-leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
Space heaters are effective for warming small areas but can create a hazard if not used properly. Always plug a space heater directly into an outlet rather than a power strip, keep it at least three feet from any flammable materials and never operate a space heater without being present.
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Additionally, closing all interior doors before going to sleep is another easy but potentially life-saving measure. This may go against our natural instincts to be able to escape quickly if a fire breaks out, but sleeping behind a closed door can help block smoke, flames and carbon monoxide gas in the event of a fire. Every second counts, especially if someone is trapped.
The benefits of using an oven to cook during the winter include warming the area surrounding the oven, but ovens should not be used as a primary heat source. If your residence has an operable fireplace, the chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually. Maintaining a charged fire extinguisher in your kitchen next to your stove and any other sources of open flame can help prevent a fire from spreading.
During October, which is Fire Protection Month, I conveyed the importance of having properly functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your residence. Heating devices – including furnaces and generators – are common sources of carbon monoxide gas. If a heating device does malfunction, detectors will alert you to a problem before it is too late.
Cold temperatures remind us of the dangers of trying to keep warm from not only a fire prevention lens but a law enforcement perspective as well.
A significant percentage of residents park outside, and our vehicles are subjected to the elements. When heading out the door, you may be tempted to start your vehicle ahead of time to warm the engine and defrost the windows. If so, do not leave your running vehicle unattended. As car thefts have skyrocketed throughout Franklin County, vehicles left running can create an easy opportunity for thieves.
Education and prevention are two of the best tools we have to stop life-changing disasters before they happen. If you have heating devices and have questions about how to safely use them, how to install a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, contact the fire department at (614) 488-5904 to speak with a member of our staff.
Greta Kearns is the mayor of Grandview Heights.
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Grandview City Notes: Winter precautions can keep everyone safe