By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio
September 30, 2019- Do not let the unseasonably warm temperatures confuse you, winter is indeed coming to Northeast Ohio and the cooler weather will be here in no time.
As the leaves begin to change and the air gets crisp, it is time to inspect and get your home heating ready to safely warm your home.
HEAT YOUR HOMES SAFELY
Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. Each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters.
To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends you follow these steps:
- Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves professionally inspected and cleaned.
- Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.). If these items get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
SPACE HEATER SAFETY
With heating costs on the rise, many Northeast Ohio residents use alternative heating sources, such as portable space heaters, to help minimize winter heating bills. This equipment is so common that it’s involved in roughly two of every five home heating fires.
The Red Cross recommends using a space heater that automatically shuts off. Other portable space heater safety tips include:
- Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic title floor.
- All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
You can also help your family stay safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less.
For more home fire safety information, visit the Red Cross home fire safety campaign page.