As temperatures drop across the state, the potential for fire injuries and gas poisonings related to people heating their homes will rise, said local fire prevention officials.
Some of the state's low-income individuals often turn to heat sources such as candles, which can tip over and burn, and ovens and grills, which emit dangerous gases like carbon monoxide, said State Fire Marshal Robert Doke.
Doke also noted that space heaters are often misused when people rely on them to heat rooms or homes.
Cpt. Benny Fulkerson, of the Oklahoma City Fire Department's education office, said space heaters are a big source of fire injuries and deaths this time of the year, noting the death of five people, including four children, in an Oklahoma City home last year after a space heater was placed too close to a couch, which ignited after everyone had fallen asleep.
“People just don't realize that anything will burn,” said Fulkerson. “The main thing to keep in mind with the space heaters, no matter which kind you're using, the general rule is to keep them three feet away from anything that burns.”
Doke and Fulkerson both also encouraged citizens to purchase a carbon monoxide detector for their homes.
“Carbon monoxide is the silent killer,” said Doke. “It just renders you unconscious.”
Fulkerson said that carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and many of the symptoms are flu-like. He said to be aware if you feel nausea, dizziness, headache or vomiting.
Shirley Logue, senior grant specialist for the emergency energy grant programs at the Salvation Army, said that Oklahomans interested in helping the less fortunate pay their heating costs this winter can participate in the Share the Warmth program by checking the box on their Oklahoma Natural Gas bill and indicating how much money they would like to donate.
Share the Warmth helps low-income citizens pay for utility costs.
Logue said people can also donate to the program by sending a check directly to the Salvation Army.
Last year, the Share the Warmth program helped nearly 1,800 Oklahoma families pay their heating costs with more than $205,000 in donations.
At Will Rogers World Airport, the low temperature was 19 degrees on Wednesday and 32 degrees on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Norman. Following a gradual period of warming, the low Tuesday morning may dip to the low to mid-30s, according to the weather service.