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THD Stresses Importance of Safe and Adequate Heat During Cold Weather

TULSA, OK – [December 6, 2016] – As temperatures drop, the Tulsa Health Department would like to remind Tulsa County residents of the importance of safe and adequate heat for your home or apartment.

According to the International Property Maintenance Code Section 602.3, adequate and safe heat sources must be available to occupants of living structures no later than October 15 of each year. The heater must warm the living space to a minimum of 65 oF. Space heaters are not considered a primary heat source, and should only be used to supplement permanent heat sources.

The Tulsa Health Department may be able to advise if a heat source is adequate, safe or not safe. 

 “Unsafe heat can be deadly, said Bernard Dindy, environmental health services manager. “It’s important that everyone’s home has a safe and proper source of heat during the cold Oklahoma winter months. If anyone suspects their heater is unsafe or inadequate they can call THD for inspection.”

For questions regarding your heat source, please contact the environmental division at 918-595-4200.

Gas cooking stoves should never be used to heat a living space. Any heater or cooking equipment designed to be used outside the home should never be used inside because of the threat of both fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Open flame gas heaters (vented and unvented) may be harmful if not used properly.  Gas heaters that are not working properly could introduce the toxic gas carbon monoxide into living spaces.  Most gas heaters specify where they can or cannot be used in a specific room.  When used properly gas heat is effective and efficient, but when improperly installed or used they can be deadly.

THD officials discourage the use of space heaters, but recognize that people may rely on them during cold winter months. To minimize danger to health and potential house fires, THD stresses that space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn – especially bedding and paper.

“You should never connect space heaters with extension cords,” said Dindy. “Make sure your heater is UL Listed. These heaters have been tested for risk of fire, electric shock and other hazards.” 

The Tulsa Health Department offers these tips:

If space heaters must be used, keep them three feet from anything that can burn and on a hard floor surface.
Gas heaters must have safety devices and be approved to be used in some living spaces.  
Chimneys and wood burning stoves should be properly vented and properly cleaned and maintained. 
Never use a cook stove to heat a living area.
Space heaters should also be UL approved and be plugged directly into a wall socket.  
Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, to shut off the heating element if the heater falls over.
Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
Install and maintain smoke detectors in your home.

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