Vectren issues safety reminders for the winter heating season

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DAYTON — As cold air pushes its way into Ohio, Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio wants to remind its customers to be aware of heating safety throughout the winter months.

Having a furnace tune-up by a professional; knowing how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and detect a gas leak; and being aware of the safety precautions associated with the use of space heaters are simple ways to keep your household safe throughout the year.

“As temperatures continue to drop and the need for heating your home increases through the winter season, it’s important to keep safety in mind,” said Colleen Ryan, president of Vectren Energy Delivery-Ohio. “Safety begins with simple, key steps such as ensuring your furnace, space heaters and fireplaces are properly ventilated and the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.”

Customers should consider safety precautions associated with home heating, the use of natural gas and the use of electric space heaters. Furthermore, don’t forget to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home on an annual basis.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment, such as electrical and kerosene heaters, is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February.

To help prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of space heaters, adhere to the following tips as recommended by the NFPA:

• Install and use appliances according to the manufacturer's instructions.

• Consider using space heaters with automatic shut-off capabilities.

• Never use unvented gas or kerosene heaters in closed spaces, especially sleeping areas.

• Don’t use gas appliances such as an oven, range or clothes dryer to heat the home.

• Leave a window cracked about an inch for ventilation and fresh air. Ventilation is important to keep fuel-burning space heaters from consuming too much oxygen in the house.

• Do not leave a space heater on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep and keep small children away from the unit at all times.

• Electric space heaters should be checked for signs of fraying or splitting wires or overheating. Likewise, electric space heaters frequently cause fires by overloading electrical outlets.

• Keep space heaters away from combustible materials/products.

• When selecting a space heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete burning of different fuels including gasoline, kerosene, wood, coal, propane, natural gas and fuel oil. 

High concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause illness and excessive levels can be fatal. If you suspect CO in your home, get fresh air immediately and call 911. To prevent carbon monoxide in your home:

• Make sure all appliances are properly installed and maintained and have a heating professional clean and check your heating and venting system every year.

• Check vents, flue pipes and chimneys for corrosion or blockage.

• Never run a vehicle or fuel-burning equipment in an enclosed place.

• Install at least one CO detector near sleeping areas to add an extra measure of safety.

Also, Vectren officials note that natural gas contains an odorant called mercaptan that smells like rotten eggs or sulfur. In the event a gas leak is suspected inside of a home or business, residents are reminded of the following:

• Leave the home or business of the gas leak immediately and distance yourself from the building once outside, as well as areas where the odor of gas is noticeable.

• Do not use the phone, cell phone, or text anyone while in the building or who may be in the building. If you notice the leak while talking on the phone, do not hang up.

• Do not turn any lights, appliances or any electrical sources on or off, or light matches.

• Do not open or close windows.

• Do not start a vehicle if it’s parked in a garage that’s attached to the home/business and do not utilize an automatic garage door opener upon exiting.

• Call Vectren at (800) 227-1376 from somewhere other than the location of the gas leak. There is no charge to the customer for calling Vectren to inspect a potential gas leak. Vectren will respond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

• Remain in a safe area until emergency personnel arrive and do not re-enter the premises.