The National Weather Service forecasts dangerously low wind chills in Ohio, reaching -10 to -25 F in some parts. OEMA warns unsafe heating practices can bring their own risks, including carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency urges residents to practice safety and precaution if using alternative heat sources such as electric space heaters, fireplaces, kerosene heaters or back-up generators. These can increase the chance of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
State officials suggests the following safety tips to prevent injury from carbon monoxide and fires when using alternative heating:
• Install battery-operated carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout the home, and replace or test the batteries to ensure the detectors work. If the CO detector or smoke alarm sounds, leave the building immediately and call 911.
• Have a fire safety escape plan. Practice the plan. Keep escape routes clear and free of clutter and trip hazards.
• Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning, or are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseous.
• Do not heat your house by using a gas oven.
• Do not run or warm a vehicle inside a garage that is attached to the home, even if the garage door is open.
If using a fireplace or wood-burning stove:
• Have the chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.
• Keep the hearth area clear of debris, decorations and flammable material. Use a fire screen with the fireplace.
• Never leave fires unattended.
If using a portable space heater:
• Space heaters need space. Keep the heater between 1-3 feet away from people, pets, objects and loose-fitting clothes.
• Check the heater’s cord and wires for fraying or splitting. Damaged wires can easily overheat and catch fire.
• Turn the heater down or off before going to sleep.
• Unplug the heater when leaving the home or when it’s not in use.
If using a kerosene heater:
• Follow the manufacturer’s directions, especially describing ventilation of the heater.
• Kerosene heaters should never be burning overnight or while sleeping.
• Keep heater at least three feet from people, pets, curtains, and furniture or wall coverings.
• Refuel the heater outdoors, only after it’s cooled.
• Refuel the heater to only 90% full. Once indoors, kerosene will expand.
For additional information on winter safety in the home, visit www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.