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Use caution when heating with alternative sources


Many in the county are noticing the cooler temperatures, especially with nightly lows in the 30s. With the cool temperatures, people are turning on the heat.

Those using alternative heating methods should exercise caution. Just last week there was a house fire in Sullivan due to the use of a space heater.

Sullivan City Fire Department Chief Rob Robertson said there are a few things residents should keep in mind when getting their homes ready for winter.

“Heaters and stuff, keep them away from things that can burn and put them in a safe space,” Robertson said. “And if you are going to use candles don’t leave them lit when you leave.”

He also recommends candles should be put in a space clear from any object that can easily catch fire.

Homeowners with furnaces should make sure their homes are ready as well.

“When they start their furnaces, they need to have them cleaned and make sure everything is up and running good,” Robertson said.

He also cautions residents about using space heaters for things other than heating rooms in a home.

“When people try to use those to thaw water lines, they need to stay with it and make sure they are not close to anything that could burn,” Robertson said.

There are fires in the city and county every year due to issues with heating homes over the winter months. In the city of Sullivan, the number of house fires changes from year to year.

“It varies,” Robertson said. “We have three or four through the winter maybe from that.”

There are options besides alternative heating sources that can help stay warm and save money on heating bills. Some of these include wearing thick, warm clothing such as socks, slippers, sweaters and long underwear. Homeowners can caulk windows and doors to help stop drafts and decrease heat loss.

It is also suggested that people should stay active indoors, which can help with increasing body heat. Some activities to consider are dancing, cleaning and working out.

For more tips on alternative heat safety, as well as fire safety, visit

Here are a few tips from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to safely stay warm this season:

         Keep at least a 3-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times. Space prevents the chances of something getting caught and catching on fire.

         Space heaters should be kept away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding and furniture.

         Appliances such as ovens should never be used for heating. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and other safety hazards.

Fireplaces are common alternative heat sources but pose many hazards if proper maintenance is neglected. Also, a fire left unattended may expand to uncontrollable levels and spread to other areas of the home.

         Fireplaces should be regularly cleaned and inspected by a certified professional.

         Use only dry, seasoned firewood to prevent the buildup of creosote, a buildup on chimney walls of a flammable tar deposited from wood smoke.

         Fires should always be extinguished before going to bed or leaving the home.

Working smoke alarms are especially important in the winter months because of the hazards created by alternative heating sources. Every second counts during a fire and smoke alarms can double the likelihood of survival.

         Install smoke alarms on every level and outside each sleeping area of the building.

         Consider purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, especially if the home uses gas appliances or gasoline-powered heaters.

         Smoke alarms should be tested every month to make sure they are still working.

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