Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Officials caution about winter safety

January 9, 2002

Few fires have occurred this winter in the area, but it is important to remember to practice fire safety as the temperatures drop.

"What really worries me this time of year is electric heaters and the misuse of extension cords," said Charlie Conrad, Tonganoxie city fire chief.

Open shades in day, and close them at night. Install weather stripping in your home. Use a self-closing dryer vent. Lay 12-inch insulation in the attic. Cover windows with plastic. Have your furnace checked.

Conrad suggested always following manufacturers' instructions when using space heaters, which states the correct uses of the heaters, including where they should be placed and warnings about carbon monoxide.

"If you don't have to use them (space heaters), don't use them," said Jim Herken, Easton township fire chief.

Herken said that wiring in most houses, especially older homes, cannot handle space heaters for long periods of time.

"For secondary heat, for short periods of time, it's OK," Herken said. "But don't leave them on overnight."

Joe Heinen, the member services manager at Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric Cooperative, cautioned to keep space heaters away from curtains, but to keep them near windows if possible because that is where much of the cold air enters homes.

"If you don't have real good windows, buy plastic protectant to seal them," Heinen said.

Heinen suggested installing 12-inch insulation for attics to add warmth to homes.

"You want to make sure you have decent windows and good insulation in your walls," Herken said.

Conrad said that chimneys should be cleaned by a professional, and heaters need to be checked to ensure that they are working correctly.

"People need to have their furnace checked by a service man to make sure it's working correctly," Conrad said.

Herken said to use fireplaces as a secondary form of heat sparingly because they often cause unwanted drafts.

"Fireplaces aren't cost-efficient," he said.

Heinen said that one of the newer ways to save energy and increase heat is to buy a self-closing vent for dryers. He said cold air can sneak into homes through open dryer vents, causing a draft.

Herken stressed the importance of having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

"Make sure you have a smoke detector and CO detector," Herken said. "Make sure you have batteries in them and they're working. They do save lives. A CO detector is just as important as a smoke detector."

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