Do It Yourself

Fire Marshal Asks for Safe Heating During Power Outages, Colder Weather

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November 22, 2013 — Indiana’s Fire Marshal says storm-related power outages and colder weather are causing Hoosiers to use fireplaces, space heaters and other alternative heating equipment.

Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson says some Hoosiers are using wood stoves or space heaters to warm their homes to cope with power outages, and even where power is available, more Hoosiers are using alternative heating sources as winter approaches.

Greeson asks people to use them safely, “Every winter, firefighters across the state respond to thousands of home fires caused by heating equipment.  These types of fires can almost always be prevented by homeowners and renters who use alternative heat sources carefully and responsibly.”

Besides fires, alternative heating has other safety risks.  This fall four members of a Merrillville family died when a generator used in an attached garage, and enclosed house, left them victims of carbon monoxide deaths.

Greeson offers tips from his Fire Marshal’s Office:

Woodstoves or fireplaces:

  • Use only dry, seasoned wood in a fireplace or woodstove to avoid the build-up of creosote, an oily deposit that easily catches fire.
  • Use only paper or kindling wood, not a flammable liquid, to start the fire. Do not use artificial logs in woodstoves.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
  • Allow fireplace and woodstove ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from your home.

Space heaters:

  • Space heaters need space. Keep heaters away from flammable materials such as bedding, drapes, clothing, etc.
  • Use the proper grade of fuel for your liquid-fueled space heater and never use gasoline in any heater not approved for gasoline use.
  • Refuel space heaters only in a well ventilated area and when the equipment is cool.
  • Plug power cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity, never into an extension cord.
  • Turn off space heaters whenever the room they are in is unoccupied.
  • Turn off space heaters when you go to bed each night to avoid knocking them over in the dark.

Knowing how to use your generator properly can protect you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Never use a generator inside.
  • Place emergency generators outdoors away from windows and doors to prevent fumes from entering the home.
  • Have a CO detector in the house that sounds an alarm when dangerous carbon monoxide levels are found.

Greesons offer more information about winter heating safety at

He also reminds Hoosiers that state law requires a working smoke alarm in the home, “Working smoke alarms can double the chances of surviving a residence fire. By Indiana law, all dwellings must have at least one functioning smoke alarm installed outside each sleeping area, and on each level of the building.”


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