After a warm start to fall, cooler temperatures are finally expected this weekend. Hoosiers using alternative heating methods to avoid the furnace a bit longer should exercise caution.

“During the months of October through December, fire-related deaths increase because of alternative heating sources,” said State Fire Marshal James Greeson. “These heating sources are the leading cause of all home fires for the calendar year so sharing information about their dangers is vital.”

Greeson advises Hoosiers to take precautions if alternative sources are in use. Here are a few tips to safely stay warm this season:

  • Keep at least a 3-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times. The 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. Greeson also warns that 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 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.

Marshal Greeson wants Hoosiers to know there are options besides alternative heating sources that can help stay warm and save money on heating bills.

“Some of them may seem odd, but depending on the situation, these methods can help keep Hoosiers warm without the fire hazard of alternative heating devices,” Greeson said.

Wear thick, warm clothing such as socks, slippers, sweaters and long underwear. Caulking windows and doors helps stop drafts and decrease heat loss. Fewer drafts can help preserve body heat. Staying active indoors 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 GetPrepared.in.gov