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How to safely heat your house during cold temperatures

Space heater
Space heater(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:05 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 2:51 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With the cold temperatures coming this weekend, you may be looking to stay warm inside the house.

That’s especially true since the Augusta Fire Department/Emergency Management Agency encouraged people to stay home during the icy precipitation that’s expected Friday night into Saturday.

“We just want people to remain as safe as possible,” Augusta Fire Chief/EMA Director Antonio Burden said Friday. “Right now, that means staying home and staying warm for the next day or so.”

But stay warm safely.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of residential fires in the United States. Data from the National Fire Prevention Association shows that local fire departments responded to an annual average of 48,530 fires resulting from negligent heater use between 2014 and 2018. These fires resulted in 500 deaths, 1,350 injuries, and $1.1 billion in property damage.

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If you’re going to use an alternative heating source in the home, like a space heater, make sure that you keep that device in a very safe area away from pets. Make sure that it’s at least 3 feet away from any combustible surface such as curtains or any type of fabric or paper.

Experts encourage people using space heaters to not have extension cords stretched across the floor where they’re constantly being walked over or having furniture moved on top of them. Sometimes that can cause a spark and be the cause of a fire.

You should have two ways to get out of each part of your house and make sure the back door isn’t blocked.

And don’t use ovens and stoves as sources of heat.

Some heating sources can produce carbon monoxide, and that’s something else to worry about.

If you have a flame-producing product in your home, whether it’s a gas furnace or a gas flame gas stove top, or some type of gas producing appliance, make sure that it’s serviced every year by a licensed professional and that it’s vented properly.

Of course, your home needs smoke detectors, and they should be checked monthly, experts say.

People 65 years and older are at a greater risk for loss of life and significant injury from a fire.

Quick tips

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable, plug them directly into an outlet or UL-certified power strip, and make sure they have an auto-shutoff if they tip over. Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them. Properly vent kerosene heaters to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
  • Have your fireplace or wood stove chimney and chimney connectors inspected and cleaned at the start of the heating season.
  • Do not plug heating equipment into extension cords. This can lead to overheating of the cord, damage to the appliance, and increased risk of fire or electric shock.
  • Move anything that can burn at least 3 feet from your heater, fireplace, or wood stove. Fifty-four percent of home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn.
  • Keep your children and pets safely away from your portable or space heater.
  • Turn off your portable or space heater before leaving the room.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Put generators outside and close nearby windows
  • Use flashlights not candles when power goes out
  • Check that smoke alarms are working
  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed
  • Make sure windows can open and are unobstructed

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