Winter weather heat safety tips: What to know

(WJW) – With freezing temperatures in the forecast, the State Fire Marshal’s office wants to help people heat their homes safely.

“It may be tempting to use alternative heating right now, but it is also important to do so safely,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon. “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.”

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Heating Safety

  • Alternative heat sources need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away from other items.

  • 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 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 and refuel heaters outside.

  • Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and never go to bed with candles burning.

  • Make certain that your home’s smoke alarms are in proper working order and in every bedroom.

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home.

  • All smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and batteries replaced at least twice a year.

  • If you have elderly or disabled neighbors, check on them regularly.

  • 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, ice and debris for easy access by the fire department.

The state fire marshal also has a special section for tips on staying safe in manufactured homes, where pipe protection is even more critical.

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Here are their tips:

  • Check the underbelly/bottom board of the home for rips or tears. If there are rips or tears and there is a loss of insulation, repair using products approved for use with manufactured homes either in the product’s information or in the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the home.

  • 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.

  • Use draft stoppers to keep gusts of cold air from slipping in beneath your doors. You can buy them at a hardware store or create your own by filling a fabric tube with newspaper or simply using a rolled-up towel or blanket.

  • Consider adding curtains/blinds in front of doors or windows.

  • 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.

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