(Cushing) – Once again, our area is experiencing much colder temperatures. As part of the fire department’s commitment to a safe Cushing, Chief Brent Kerr is offering the following sensible safety tips regarding propane heaters and generators:

Propane Heaters Safety:

Do not use heaters that vent their exhaust into the room. They are referred to as unvented space heaters and can cause carbon monoxide to be released. Although an oxygen depletion alarm is standard with most of these heaters, these are not the same as carbon monoxide alarms. “Room-vented” space heaters that are wall-mounted and connected to gas lines are also “unvented” space heaters.

Combustion fuel space heaters need to be professionally installed to vent all exhaust products outside the home. They should also be cleaned and tuned on a regular basis. And as with furnaces, this should be done by a professional.

Unvented space heaters that use a combustion fuel such as kerosene, propane, or natural gas are not recommended for use in homes, including mobile homes.

Generator Safety:

NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.

Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test batteries monthly.

Never run generators indoors, including garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds.

Get to fresh air right away if you start to feel dizzy or weak.

Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be occupied in order to help avoid the CO hazard. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.

Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all appliances connected to it. Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.

NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “back feeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety   containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.

Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

Chief Kerr said, “Like many citizens, we all try and find the most economical solution to keep warm when we experience much colder temperatures like today. I want to encourage our citizens to operate their propane heaters safely.” Kerr continued, “In the event we experience a prolonged loss of power, those operating generators need to know how to do it safely. Generators are an excellent source of alternate power, but can be deadly if used inappropriately.”