By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP — As freezing temperatures dip and bitter wind chills hit the township and village this week, Enon/Mad River Township Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young is offering some home safety tips to all citizens.
According to Young, one of the simplest safety measures residents can do to keep their families protected this winter is to inspect and make sure both smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working properly.
“These detectors can make a vital difference if a fire breaks out or a carbon monoxide leak should occur in the home,” Young said. “They will give residents the earliest possible warning that something is wrong so they can escape safely.”
The chief recommended that residents change the batteries in all the detectors/alarms in their homes every year, and when changing the batteries, check the expiration date of the detectors, which is stamped on the underside.
“Most smoke and carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced 10 years after the date of installation, and some older models of carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced more frequently,” said Young.
Young cautioned that all smoke detectors do not operate the same way and may leave families with a false sense of security. Therefore, knowing the difference in smoke detectors can determine if a family can escape a fire in adequate time. According to Young, a photoelectric sensing detector primarily detects smoke in the air from a slow-burning fire, such as a smoldering mattress, and an ionization sensing detector quickly senses small amounts of smoke produced by fast-moving flames, which commonly occurs during a cooking fire. A dual sensor detector, which utilizes both types of sensors, has recently risen in popularity.
The chief also noted that residents should establish a home escape plan if a fire breaks out or a CO leak occurs in the home.
“Occupants of a home may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm sounds, and they need to know what to do and where to go if that happens,” said Young.
Keeping thermostats set at the lowest comfortable temperature will help optimize the performance of a furnace that may be struggling to keep the house warm during these frigid temperatures. Young pointed out that heating systems are the leading source of carbon monoxide in the home.
If poorly ventilated, a furnace can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into the air, and death can occur within minutes. For that reason, he said, it is important to have carbon monoxide detectors install in the home, and a licensed professional inspect and clean the furnace.
“There is a greater risk for carbon monoxide poisoning during these frigid days,” Young said. “Furnace inspections can reveal carbon monoxide leaks that are hard to detect because the gas is colorless and odorless.”
Now that the winter chill has set in, many people have turned to space heaters to keep toasty. However, Young said it is important to know how to operate them safely. All space heaters should be at least three feet away from any objects that could easily catch fire. He also advised not to use any type of extension cords which have proven to be the most common cause of space heater-related fires.
Township and village residents who are struggling to part with their Christmas trees might consider the fact that nearly 40 percent of home fires caused by Christmas trees occur in the month of January, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“Any heat-generating device uses a lot of electricity, and if you’re not using the proper type of cord, that can be really dangerous,” said Young.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.