Ohioans should be fire safe during winter weather


COLUMBUS — As we brace for the potential of significant snow fall this weekend in parts of Ohio, State Fire Marshal Larry L. Flowers is asking all residents to make sure their homes are fire safe. Many fire incidents during this time of the year are preventable as long as Ohioans take the right precautions.

“It may be tempting to use alternative heating right now, but it is also important to do so safely,” said Marshal Flowers. “The use of alternative heating sources can greatly increase the chance of a fire occurring. By following some basic safety tips, you can keep yourself and your family safe during this upcoming winter weather.”

In addition to alternative heating safety, the Division of State Fire Marshal is encouraging Ohioans to prepare for all possible consequences a winter storm can bring, including power outages and the use of backup generators. The State Fire Marshal’s office offers these tips:

Heating Safety

– Use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

– Alternative heat sources need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.

– Make sure your alternative heat sources have ‘tip switches.’ These ‘tip switches’ are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.

– Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.

– Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.

– Refuel heaters only outdoors.

– Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least three feet away from anything that could burn. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.

Generator Safety

– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using generators.

– Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home. CO fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.

– Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.

– Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.

– Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or ‘backfeed’ can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Electrical Safety

– If the power goes out, make certain that all electrical appliances, such as stoves, electric space heaters and hair dryers, are in the OFF position.

– If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.

– Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds.

– Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension and appliance cords, loose prongs, and plugs.

– Exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard.

– Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.

– Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.

Additional Tips

– Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.

– Make certain that your home’s smoke alarms are in proper working order.

– Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas.

– All smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and batteries replaced at least twice a year.

– If you have elderly or disable neighbors, check on them regularly. Offer to test their smoke alarms and inspect their homes for fire hazards.

– Have a fire escape plan that includes two ways out and a designated meeting place for family members once they are outside the home.

– If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of snow, ice and debris for easy access by the fire department.

“These simple tips can make a big difference for families all across the state,” Marshal Flowers said. “Take some time to follow these tips and ensure you, your family and your neighbors stay safe during this colder weather.”

Additional fire safety tips can be found at www.com.ohio.gov/fire. Older Ohioans can find more winter safety information by visiting the Ohio Department of Aging’s website at www.aging.ohio.gov/steadyu.

Story courtesy of the Ohio’s State Fire Marshal’s office.

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