LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -With hundreds of residents still without power in Comanche County following the weekend's ice storm, many are turning to alternative heat sources in a desperate effort to keep warm.
Lawton fire marshals say when it comes to taking matters into your own hands to heating your home, it can often back fire and end in a visit from the fire department.
They say the only way to truly safe guard yourself when using alternate resources of heat, is to prepare in advance for a power outage or extreme weather. They say without proper preparation, the dangers of a potential fire, injury or even death increase dramatically.
When faced with downed power lines and plummeting temperatures, Lawton Fire Marshal Mark Mitchell says fire calls spike.
"We see a lot of fires this time a year. People don't intend to cause a fire, but in an effort to stay warm, they're doing things that are inherently dangerous," Mitchell said.
Mitchell says one of the biggest problems they face is when people start to get creative, improperly installing or using heating equipment.
"One of them that we see is not recommended is using a stove or their stove top to heat. Those appliances are not designed for that, it's dangerous and we do not recommend that," Mitchell said.
Mitchell says while many space heaters can produce a comfortable amount of heat safely, they can become dangerous and even deadly if an outdoor heater is brought inside while giving off toxic fumes.
"It's not uncommon this time of year to have carbon monoxide injuries or worse, people being asphyxiated using these inside their homes," Mitchell explained.
When the power goes out, residents are without heat and light. Mitchell says the go to are often candles when flashlights aren't readily on hand. He says those candles can lead to disaster if they're not monitored.
"Do not leave the home and leave those candles burning, that's an ignition source. If the pet gets the curtain by the candle or knocks a pillow by the couch, whatever it may be, those are potential heat sources," Mitchell said.
Even when using a safe alternative resource, Mitchell says to always make sure you keep it at least three feet away from any structure or object.
The Lawton Fire Department also wants to remind people to make sure they have a working smoke detector, because that small measure could save your life.