Fire dept. offers cold-weather tips

With frigid temperatures in the forecast, Tiffin Fire and Rescue Division is reminding residents to take safety precautions when using heating equipment.

According to a release from the fire department, heating equipment, such as space heaters, can be used safely when following guidelines. When buying a new space heater, make sure it carries the mark of an independent testing laboratory.

Users should maintain a 36-inch clearance between space heaters and anything that is flammable. If the space heater is electric, it should be plugged directly into a property fused outlet.

According to the release, fuel-fired heaters, which include kerosene and propane heaters, are not permitted to be used in any residences except one- and two-family homes. They, too, should have the mark of an independent testing laboratory and maintain a minimum of a 36-inch clearance. These heaters, which need oxygen to burn, should be used in a properly ventilated room and should be refilled outdoors.

Tiffin Fire and Rescue also recommends having wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, chimney connectors and other solid-fueled heating equipment inspected annually by a professional. Properly seasoned wood should be used and wood should not be overloaded into a fireplace.

Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room, and place fireplace and woodstove ashes in a metal container. The container then should be set outside away from combustible materials to cool before disposal.

With temperatures hitting the negative, pipes also may be more likely to freeze, according to the release.

To prevent freezing, keep a residence warm by not lowering the thermostat for energy efficiency. Plumbing on the outside walls and in crawl spaces rely on heat radiated from the rooms to keep from freezing. Allowing a small amount of water to continually flow through a pipe also could prevent freezing. Finally, if pipes do freeze, do not use a propane torch or heat gun to thaw them, the release states. That could cause a fire. Instead, call a plumber.

In preparing for cold weather, Tiffin Fire and Rescue recommends testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and making sure escape routes are clear of clutter and easily accessible.

Reviewing emergency procedures in a household also is a key in fire safety and prevention.