COLUMBUS -- As winter weather continues in Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) reminds you of important home heating safety precautions and electric power outage preparation.
PUCO's five tips for safe home heating
- Have your furnace, vents, flues and chimneys inspected by a qualified repair person. This should be done once a year.
- Never use an oven to heat the house. This can damage the oven and possibly cause carbon monoxide to be released into the home.
- Plug portable space heaters directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) and make sure they stay at least three feet from anything that can burn such as paper, bedding and people. Look for models that have an automatic shut-off.
- Install or replace batteries of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and test to make sure they work.
- Leave the house immediately and call 911 if carbon monoxide is detected or you suspect a gas leak. Carbon monoxide poisoning creates flu-like symptoms and can cause extreme illness or death. Signs of a gas leak include a rotten egg or sulfur-like odor.
In addition to safely heating your home this winter, it is important to know what to do in the event of an electric power outage or service interruption. While the electric distribution system in Ohio is typically safe and reliable, service interruptions can result from weather conditions such as thunderstorms, high winds or snow storms.
The PUCO offers these tips for being prepared in the event electric customers experience a service interruption.
For practical purposes, every home should have a storm kit. The following items should be included for unexpected power interruptions.
- Portable, battery-powered radio
- Extra batteries
- Manual can opener and bottle opener
- A supply of non-perishable foods needing little or no cooking (Be sure you pack any special dietary foods, baby food and formula, if needed.)
- Water stored in clean, non-corrosive, non-breakable, tightly covered containers such as soft drink bottles ― plan for at least two quarts per person per day
- Personal hygiene products, sanitary supplies, diapers and first aid supplies
- Ice chest and ice or frozen ice packs
- Camp stove or canned heat stove, and fuel for three to five days; or hibachi grill and charcoal
- If possible, have access to a cellular phone. Your home's hardwire or cordless telephone may not work without electricity.
Make sure you know how to manually open and close any electric garage doors, security doors or gates. Have surge protectors on important electrical equipment such as computers, DVD players and televisions. Be aware that during an outage, gas appliances with electronic ignitions will not work because electricity is needed to ignite the natural gas. Appliances requiring fans or other electric devices to run (such as central heating units and gas clothes dryers) will not operate.
What should I do during a power outage?
All outages should be immediately reported to your electric company. Since many other customers may be calling at the same time, you may not be able to speak with a live person. You can still report your outage by following the automated instructions. This will let the utility company know the location and extent of the outage. The company must keep a record of all outages.
You should also unplug all major appliances and electronics, such as computers and televisions, to protect them from a possible power surge when the power comes back on. By leaving one light on, you will be able to tell when your service is restored.
For more information and additional tips on being prepared this winter visit www.PUCO.ohio.gov or call (800) 686-PUCO (7826).