Chasteen said people using space heaters to keep their homes warm should make sure the heater is listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and that it is approved for use inside a residence. Space heaters should be kept away from all walls, curtains, furniture and anything combustible. Safety settings that turn the heater off if it is knocked over should be a priority as well. For those that use space heaters in the bedroom, please make certain it is placed far enough away from the bed that blankets will not cover the heater if they fall off the bed.
For electronic heat sources, Chasteen advised checking to make sure the electrical system is equipped to sustain power to the heater. Proper wiring and voltage are important. The fire chief said if a heater is plugged in and trips a breaker or blows a fuse, it is doing what it is supposed to do.
“If you plug it in and it kicks off, unplug a few things to reduce the load on the circuit. If it continues, leave it off because it’s not safe,” Chasteen said.
Chief Chasteen stressed the importance of working smoke detectors. He advised that any smoke detector over 10 years old should be replaced. According to Chasteen, batteries should be replaced twice a year, adding that it is easier to remember to change them when clocks change with Daylight Savings Time in the spring and fall.
“They’re your first line of defense if anything happens,” Chasteen said. “And if you’re using any kind of alternative heat source that may release carbon monoxide, you should have a carbon monoxide detector.”
Chasteen’s final piece of advice was to have an up-to-date escape plan for one’s family. Everyone in the home should participate in exit drills. While planning an escape route, Chasteen advised planning two ways to escape every room, as well as designating a single safe meeting place if the home needs to be evacuated. Once a meeting spot is chosen, every member of the family needs to know to meet there in case of an emergency.
With proper care and precaution, it is entirely possible to navigate the months of cold weather safely. Actions that take very little time and effort could potentially save a life, or even the lives of an entire family. In the event of a fire, officials advise individuals to evacuate first, then call 911. Items can be replaced, but loved ones cannot.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004