MAHONING COUNTY, Ohio – The Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency is urging residents to be safe and use precaution if using alternative heat sources to stay warm during the cold weather.
These include sources such as electric space heaters, fireplaces, kerosene heaters or back-up generators. Using these items can increase the chance of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Mahoning County EMA and state officials suggest 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.