Home heating dangers, safety tips as winter approaches

The cold weather is just around the corner, and some people may be wondering how they’re going to stay warm this winter. If home heating is a concern for you, the experts have some advice.
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Pvt. Sterling Rahe with Toledo Fire and Rescue tells 13abc, “The biggest thing is carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.”

And it’s a huge concern when it comes to heating your home in the winter.

“Furnaces, hot water tanks, anything that is operated by natural gas has the potential to give off carbon monoxide if there’s an issue,” he explains.

And your only defense is a carbon monoxide detector.

“If your carbon monoxide detector is going off in your residence, it’s always best to call 911,” Pvt. Rahe says. “Have us come out, we’ll meter your residence and make sure that it’s safe. If it starts to beep, it’s best just to exit if you can.”

Turning the furnace on at the start of the season can create some panic.

“A lot of times, we hear people, for the first time they turn it on, they may call because they actually smell the dust burning off. That’s normal, that’s natural. Let that go. If it stays persistent, then check into that. We can check into that.”

And using something other than your furnace to heat your home comes with more risks.

Pvt. Rahe tells 13abc, “We always try to steer people away from using alternate heating sources such as stoves, whether it’s gas or electric. That’s not their intended use.”

And space heaters carry their own dangers. “Anytime you’re operating anything like that, plug it directly into a wall, don’t use some type of extension cord, make sure you have a three- to four-foot buffer around that device.”

If your ability to heat your home is hindered by expensive energy bills, and you need assistance, Toledo Edison offers programs to help, and Columbia Gas offers assistance too.

Smoke alarms are also an important part of staying safe in the winter. Pvt. Rahe says you can always find free alarms in the city. “If you don’t have a smoke alarm, we have a smoke alarm program. You can stop by any of our fire stations in the city, and our firefighters will set you up with that.”

There is no program for carbon monoxide detectors through Toledo Fire, so Pvt. Sterling Rahe says you’ll need to purchase your own. “It’s money well spent. You really need to have that in your home.”

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