Home Alternative guide Federal and state agencies offer winter fire safety tips to Ohioans

Federal and state agencies offer winter fire safety tips to Ohioans

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On recent Energy Costs Day, American Electric Power Ohio offered simple tips for residents to make their homes more energy efficient.

“National Cut Your Energy Day is a great day to make a list of what you can change around your home to create energy and financial savings this winter,” said Jon Williams, CEO of the AEP Ohio Customer Experience. “By following these tips, you can make a difference in the amount of energy you use for home heating.”

AEP Ohio’s top tips include:

  • Caulk, seal and apply weather stripping to exterior openings in your home.
  • Maintain your heating system every year to maintain optimal performance and avoid winter breakdowns.
  • Heat pump systems are environmentally friendly, super efficient and cost effective when used correctly. Small changes in thermostat setting (2 degrees) are the key to low cost operation.
  • Replace or clean the system filters at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Unless your fireplace is equipped specifically for home heating, use it sparingly. Hot air escapes through the chimney.
  • Install a humidifier and set it to 35% to 40% humidity in the winter. This will help your home feel warmer at a lower temperature setting.
  • Vacuum or dust the air registers regularly and make sure they are not blocked by obstacles such as furniture.
  • Turn down the thermostat during the day when no one is home and at night while you sleep.
  • Open curtains and blinds on south-facing windows to allow more sun and warmth during the day, but remember to close them at night.

AEP Ohio customers can view their daily and monthly energy usage, see their highest day of use, and sign up for high bill alerts on the AEP Ohio Energy Dashboard. They can log on to AEPOhio.com/Account to explore this tool.

Winter brings with it the risk of fire and the dangers of safely heating your home.

Fire Safety Tips

Office of the Ohio Fire Marshal

More than half of all home heating fires occur during the winter months and State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon is urging Ohioans to keep their loved ones safe this winter using these helpful tips from the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of the State’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Manufactured Home. Program.

“It can be tempting to use alternative heating right now, but it’s also important to do it safely,” Reardon said. “Using alternative heating sources can significantly increase the risk of fire. By following some basic safety tips, you can keep yourself and your family safe during this winter weather.

In addition to suggestions for alternative heating safety, the state fire marshal’s office offers these tips:

  • Use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Alternative heat sources need their space. Keep all combustibles at least one meter away.
  • Make sure your alternate heat sources have toggle switches. These are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event of a tip over.
  • Do not use your kitchen oven or stove to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Never fill a radiator while it is running or still hot.
  • Refuel heaters outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed and at least three feet away from anything that could burn. Make sure they have proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
  • Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure your home’s smoke alarms are in good working order.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home as well as inside and outside bedrooms.
  • All smoke detectors should be tested monthly and the batteries replaced at least twice a year.
  • If you have elderly or disabled 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 exits 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 so the fire department has easy access.

Manufactured home owners have additional winterization preparations to maintain a safe place for their loved ones during the colder months. Here are some additional tips for manufactured home owners:

  • Check the basement/bottom panel of the house for rips or tears. If there are rips or tears and there is a loss of insulation, repair using products approved for use with manufactured homes, either in the product information or in the installation instructions from the manufacturer for the home.
  • Check baseboards around the house to make sure they are intact and in good condition. Various events can cause damage to the baseboard of the house (e.g. pets, yard work, inclement weather), which can allow cold air to reach the belly/bottom of the house and increase the risk of freezing of the pipes of a house in cold weather.
  • Check water lines for adequate electrical heating tape, which helps prevent your pipes from freezing in cold weather.
  • Make sure nothing (e.g. furniture, paper, etc.) is covering/blocking your heating vents.
  • Use windbreakers to prevent gusts of cold air from creeping under your doors. You can buy them at a hardware store or make your own by stuffing a fabric tube with newspaper or simply using a rolled up towel or blanket.
  • Consider adding curtains/blinds in front of doors or windows.
  • Check electrical outlets that can leak heat from your home, especially if they are cracked. To prevent hot air from leaking through your electrical outlets, turn off the electricity at the outlet, remove the electrical plates, and seal the inside with caulk to keep the hot air inside.

Call the Manufactured Homes Program, 1-800-686-1526, or visit com.ohio.gov/MH.aspx if you have any questions or concerns. Additional safety tips are available from the State Fire Marshal’s Office at com.ohio.gov/fire.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also recommends that Ohioans be prepared for all disasters by taking these additional disaster preparedness steps for 2022:

  • Prepare an emergency kit. These portable kits should include food, water, medicine, prescriptions, money, radios, flashlights and other necessities. It is also recommended to have hand sanitizer and face masks included in your kit, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Keep an emergency kit in your car in case you get stranded and include an extra set of clothes and blankets for the winter months.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts for your area. It is important to know how to get information when a disaster occurs. Local radio and TV stations provide information on how to stay safe and find temporary shelter.
  • Budget for a disaster. Prepare financially for the new year. Find out how with the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. Start building an emergency fund today so you can cover any unexpected changes in your daily life.
  • Check your insurance policies. Understand what your policies cover in the event of a major catastrophe and speak to your agent to ensure you are sufficiently insured against the risks you may face. Take photos of your property and make an inventory. Having a clear record of what you own will make the insurance process easier.
  • Protect your valuables. Store valuables, such as photographs or heirlooms, in damage-proof containers so you don’t risk losing them permanently. Also keep copies of your critical documents safe in case of an emergency.

Visit www.Ready.gov/resolution for more information on how you can resolve to be ready.