LAWTON, OK (RNN Texoma) -Cold weather means it’s time to crank on the heater at home, however, that comes with its own risks. Fire officials say they see an increase of house fires caused by space heaters that have been used improperly or kept on all night during the colder months.
“Space heaters can be dangerous.," said Ashleigh Hensch, Comanche County Emergency Management PIO. "You can use them safely and effectively but you do have to take some precautionary steps to make sure that your family isn’t going to be the victim of a house fire.”
Hensch said some of those steps include--making sure your space heater is not damaged, never plugging them into extension cords and leaving a three-foot perimeter around the heater.
“And never leave a space heater unattended," said Hensch. "Don’t leave the room with it going on and do not go to sleep with your space heater on.”
She said there are other heating methods that may seem common but are the most dangerous...
“You should never use your oven to heat your home," said Hensch. "When you’re cooking it makes it nice and warm so you might want to try and use the oven to continue to heat your house, but it’s not safe. That’s not what the oven was intended to do.”
As for central heating, owner Mark Pippin with Pippin Brothers said if you are heating your furnace for the first time this season you may hear some noises and notice a smell.
“It’s probably dust that gets on the heat exchanger," said Pippin. "It should go away fairly quickly. If it doesn’t go away you need to shut it off and have somebody come out and inspect it.”
Pippin said central heaters are made to run throughout the night, unlike space heaters.
Besides causing a fire, he warns residents if central heating units go uninspected for a year the worst could happen.
PIPPIN"You can get carbon monoxide poisoning, or get really sick or die."
Pippin encourages residents to purchase carbon monoxide monitors that alert of low C-O levels. Those should be placed eye-level in a hallway or bedroom.
Smoke detectors should also be replaced twice a year.