As temperatures drop, space heaters are a great way to keep houses warm without having to boost the thermostat, but they come with risks.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Winter is in full swing, ushering in extremely cold weather and layering our roads with ice and snow. Southeast Indiana continues to face cold temperatures and dangerous driving conditions. When it comes to the cold, preparation is key.
As temperatures drop, space heaters are a great way to keep houses warm without having to boost the thermostat, but they come with risks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment causes nearly 50,000 fires every year. Make sure space heaters are at least 3 feet away from combustibles like a rug, carpet or bedding, and place them on a level surface. Space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall outlet and always need to be turned off before leaving your home or going to bed. During my 26 years as a firefighter, I helped extinguish countless fires that could have been prevented.
Excessive exposure to lower temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. When going outside, wear several, loose-fitting layers rather than one, heavy layer. Cover the head with a hat or hood because most body heat is lost through the head, and wear a scarf or a knit mask to cover the face and mouth. Animals like dogs and cats are also susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside in below-freezing weather.
Cars should also be prepared for extreme weather conditions. According to the National Weather Service, cars should be equipped with an emergency kit containing blankets, non-perishable food, boots, extra clothing and water. Also, check that tires are properly inflated and try to keep gas tanks at least half full to avoid any potential gas line freeze-ups. Top off the windshield washer fluid and take time to scrape off windows before heading out.
When on the road, be prepared to take extra time to reach your destination, avoid tail gaiting, and pump the breaks when approaching a stop sign. Please be on the lookout for children getting on and off school buses, and remain patient as fellow drivers navigate treacherous situations.
Let's be prepared and warm up to these tips, and be sure to share them with younger Hoosiers who may be inexperienced with driving during the winter. Please check on family members, neighbors and friends during this cold spell to make sure they are staying warm, safe and fed. For more winter weather tips, visit the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's website at in.gov/dhs or weather.gov/safety