Residents Urged To Use Extra Caution With Frigid Weather

Fri 2-5-2021

(Arnolds Park)-- With the extreme cold comes an increased risk for structure fires. One of the leading causes of those this time of year is space heaters. Arnolds Park-Okoboji Fire Chief Chris Yungbluth says there are several things to keep in mind if you're using one...Yungbluth & Safety Tips01 

"The first is make sure you purchase a decent new space heater that's got a seal of a qualified testing laboratory. U L is a big one that's out there. There's lots of different places. But make sure that it's not one that you've had around for a pretty long time because the older they get obviously the more worn they are the higher risk and higher power that they pull, so. That's one thing we say. And then the three foot rule is the big thing that we as fire departments like to tell folks is make sure you keep it three feet away from anything that can burn. A lot of our, a lot of winter fires for us can come down to space heaters. We did have one earlier this year that was the result of a space heater. And so it does happen and it can happen and so we just want you to be real careful with them."

Yungbluth says there are several features to look for when purchasing a space heater...Yungbluth & Safety Tips02 

"Including heaters that have thermostat or overheat protection on them; make sure it's on a solid, flat surface; make sure it has an auto shut-off if it does tip over just to make sure it doesn't cause a fire; and then if you have kids in the house, make sure that you teach them to respect it and keep a good space from it."

Yungbluth says there are other things we need to be cautious of with the colder weather...Yungbluth & Safety Tips03 

"There's a potential for freezing pipes and things like that. You have to be careful with that. Make sure you have working C O detector and smoke detectors in your home if you do use alternative heat like the space heaters. If you're running your fireplace, things like that especially. All those things can produce C O in your home so you want to make sure and have those units, make sure that they're within the age limit which is typically about five years for a C O detector. And then make sure your batteries are up on your smoke detectors because that's your early detection, your warning to get out if there is a problem."

Yungbluth says it's also important to keep an eye on the outdoor vents on your home and make sure utility meters are clear of ice and snow. And when it comes to your vehicle, make sure it's in good driving condition. Yungbluth says it's important to have a winter survival kit and extra clothing and blankets in your vehicle.

He also urges everyone to limit their time outdoors as frostbite and even hypothermia can set in quickly if you're not properly protected against the elements.