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February 03, 2011
Home Heating Tips for Staying Safe and Warm
AUSTIN - As the temperatures drop, the risk of fire related property loss, injury and death increases. The Texas State Fire Marshal's Office reminds everyone that home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. Historically, use of space heaters has resulted in more fires and fire fatalities than other heating sources. Many fire related tragedies are preventable, if precaution is taken when preparing to stay warm.
The State Fire Marshal urges you to follow safe space heater practices:
- Keep heaters at least three feet away from drapes, furniture or other flammable materials.
- Place the heater on a level surface away from areas where people or pets might bump it or knock it over.
- Before using electric space heaters for the first time each season, check for fraying or splitting wires.
- Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
- Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.
- Make sure that everyone knows how dangerous it is to dry clothing over these heaters or place combustible materials near them.
- Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.
Many Texas households use space and wall heaters that burn propane or natural gas. When using these heaters, the State Fire Marshal's Office recommends the following practices:
- Make sure there is an adequate air supply. Home heaters must have an air supply; without it, they may produce carbon monoxide. If you are using an unvented space heater without an oxygen depletion sensor, keep a window or door slightly open.
- Make sure that pilot lights are working properly. If your heater has a pilot light and you can't keep it lit, or if the control is hard to operate, have it repaired.
- Turn off the heater(s)
- If you smell fumes, your eyes sting, or if you feel dizzy or nauseated;
- If there is a yellow or fluttering flame;
- If the vent isn't drawing.
- Don't use space heaters with broken or out-of-place ceramic radiants.
- If you smell a strong gas odor, turn off all pilot lights, don't flip on any electrical switches (such as room lights) and call your gas company from another location. Small sparks from turning on lights or making a phone call could ignite gas.
- Never store or use flammable liquids like gasoline, cleaning fluid or paint thinner near heaters.
- Never use the kitchen stove to heat the house, or a grill or other outdoor, fuel-burning apparatus.
Test your smoke alarms monthly. If you don't already have a home escape plan, make one and practice it. Your plan should include knowing two ways out of every room and having a designated meeting place outside and away from your house.