Fire officials, heat technicians emphasize heater safety as temperatures plunge

Local News

WICHITA FALLS(KFDX/KJTL) — Since we are not expecting to see enough sun to warm us up any time soon, fire department officials are warning residents to be extra careful how they try to stay warm.

“Bad weather is just bad to work in,” Assistant Fire Chief of the Wichita Falls Fire Department Donald Hughes said. “This is just as bad as when it’s 105 degrees.”

And because of this, not only is Hughes urging residents to take precautions when using heaters, so is Robb Havens, the Operations Manager of James Lane Air Conditioning and Plumbing.

“For customers [who] have natural gas or propane heat, the biggest concerns are making sure the furnace is vented properly,” Havens said.

Havens said the filter is the first thing to check in the heating or air conditioning systems.

“The biggest concern should be, ‘is my filter clean?’, ‘do I have clean filters?’, ‘do I need to get out and get one before it gets too bad and make sure that filter is clean so that that unit does run properly and safely and efficiently if I am stuck inside for several days?’,” Havens said.

Havens said one common complaint they get from customers who have heat pumps is that when it gets this cold, they may freeze up causing them to make loud noises. So they are giving residents this advice.

“Go to their thermostat and when it gets down below 25 degrees outside and the heater is really struggling to keep up to go ahead and put that thermostat if they have it put it into emergency heat until we start warming back up,” Havens said.

Haven also advises residents to leave their heaters at the temperature they generally would when they are away from home during the day as they would if they were home in bed.

“Don’t turn the heater off or down too much while you’re gone,” Havens said. “There’s too much temperature swing to overcome for any heater really so our recommendation will be the best thing to do is keep it at whatever temperature you keep it at maybe within two to three degrees you could lower it to keep it from running as much.”

Hughes reminds residents of the dangers of using space heaters and other heat sources when their primary heating source has been lost.

“People take their grills into their house to try to keep warm, it’s not properly ventilated it’s just not safe the carbon monoxide can build up and you have just a bunch of issues with that you need to make sure that everything you use is working properly,” Hughes said. “You want to make sure that the equipment that is attached to the heaters is working properly and just make sure that you’re not close to anything that ‘s flammable.”

Hughes and Havens encourage all residents to stay warm in these freezing temperatures but do it safely.

Havens and Hughes also urge residents with natural gas and propane heat to have a carbon monoxide detector.

Hughes said the fire department has been keeping their equipment and equipment rooms warm so they can respond quickly to fires, but ask residents to do their part in keeping themselves safe.

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