Cold weather safety: Here are some tips to ride out the chilly weather at home

HOUSTON – Sweater weather is finally here!

Houstonians at home will be breaking out the space heaters and jackets during these cold snaps.

According to the Houston Fire Department, heating devices, such as space heaters, account for more than 100 fires in the Houston area each year.

Those who are considering a heater, or restarting their central heat should think about safety.

Here are some safety tips to consider when breaking out that heater this cold season, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection
  • Make sure the heater has an auto shut-off if it tips over. According to Houston Fire, this is their top safety warning.
  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Check space heaters for cracked or damaged cords and plugs.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • If you have kids, create a “kid-free zone” three feet from open fires and space heaters.
  • Do not use an extension cord, always plug in your heater directly into the wall outlet. Keep it three feet away from anything flammable
  • If you’re restarting your central heat unit, make sure you have replaced your air filter and cleaned out of any dust before turning it on. Make sure it is also inspected each year.

Officials also warn to NEVER use an oven to heat up your home.

Officials are also urging people using gas heaters or a fireplace to purchase a carbon monoxide detector. Even if you won’t use a fireplace, you should get one.

“Keep in mind, heating devices account for more than 100 fires annually in Houston,” said Martee Boose with Houston Fire Department. “This can lead to severe injury and possible death.”

The 4 P’s

When cold weather kicks in, officials also want you to remember the four P’s:

People - Houstonians should dress warmly to avoid hypothermia.

Pets - Pets should be brought indoors or protected with a warm shelter.

Pipes - In the event of a freeze, pipes should be covered to avoid cracks.

Plants - Some plants may need to be covered or be brought inside.

For more cold weather tips, click here.

About the Authors:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 3, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.