Important fire safety tips in winter weather

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With temperatures dipping and wind chills reaching below freezing levels, most people are staying indoors to stay warm.

The Philadelphia Fire Department has some important safety tips for the winter season, so you not only stay warm, but stay safe.

Look after elderly relatives and neighbors

Check their smoke alarms to protect their lives. Ensure that they are warm, but make sure they understand the following tips:

Smoke Alarms

Have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. If you haven't checked your batteries recently, check them now.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Have a CO alarm within 15 feet of each sleeping area of your home.

Test batteries today.

Use of Heaters

Never use gas or electric ranges and ovens to heat your home.

Keep combustible materials such as newspapers, furniture or clothes at least 3 feet (36 inches) away from portable heaters.

Never place portable heaters at the bottom of the stairway. This will block the escape route in the event of a fire.

For portable electric heaters, check cords for cracks, breaks or loose connections. Never overload electrical sockets or use power strips!

For Portable Kerosene Heaters
Use only approved K-1 kerosene, never gasoline!

Never fill or refill kerosene heaters indoors or while hot.

Avoid overfilling heater.

Never store kerosene or other ignitable liquids indoors.

Clean and/or replace old wicks once a year.

During Freezing Temperatures

Know how to get out of your home in case of emergencies. Ensure windows and doors are in working order. Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in case of an emergency.

Never leave children alone in the home, even for a short period of time.

Avoid trying to thaw frozen pipes with a blow torch or other open flame. Get help from a neighbor. Use hot water or a device specifically designed for thawing pipes.

"Take Smoking Outside." Periods of cold weather are not a reason to change this rule.

Remember your commitment to fire safety. Now is not the time to relax or be careless with fire. In fact, special care should be taken around fire during freezing temperatures.

If You Still Have Cold Related Hardships:

Stay with friends or family

Contact PGW at (215) 684-6100 for information regarding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Contact PECO for electrical concerns

Remmber you Should Call 911 In Case of emergency. For non-emergencies or questions regarding cold weather issues, you should call 311. Smoke alarms are available through the Smoke Alarm Hotline at 215-686-1176.

Important Winter Information Hotline Numbers from City of Philadelphia:

Homeless Outreach Hotline
To report a homeless person living on the streets and get them immediate assistance. 215-232-1984

Heat Crisis Hotline

Tenants with heating emergencies can call the city of Philadelphia's Heat Crisis Hotline Business Hours: 215-686-2590 Nights and Weekends: 215-686-1776

Smoke Alarm Hotline

Citizens who need a smoke alarm and cannot afford one can call the Smoke Alarm Hotline to request a free smoke alarm. 215-686-1176

Behavioral Health Hotline

A 24 hour, seven days a week hotline for people experiencing a mental health crisis. 215-685-6440

Additional Homeless Services

City of Philadelphia Café Shelters Overnight drop-in centers for homeless people to get out of the cold for the night. Each Café is open every night during the winter from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
The Grace Café (55 North Broad Street)

315 South Café (315 South Broad Street
St. John's Hospice Café (1221 Race Street)

Heat Assistance

Weatherization Workshops
An effort between the city, PGW and the United Way to show residents how to conserve energy and save money. 215-684-6100

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)
The LIHEAP Cash Grant is a federal grant to help customers with their home heating bills. 215-560-2970 CRISIS Grant
This is a federal grant that helps pay for heating costs in a heating emergency, when service is off, threatened to be shut off, or if you have a past due balance with PGW. 215-686-2590

Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Program
CARES helps customers with special needs, such as family, medical or financial emergencies. 215-235-1000

Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF)
UESF provides grants up to $500 to eligible low-income customers to help them pay off the balance of a bill. 215-972-5170

Basic System Repair Program
Provides free heating repairs for low-income Philadelphia homeowners. 215-448-2160

PHIL Energy Loans
A city-sponsored loan program that covers energy-conservation projects and payment of recent utility bills (not weatherization) 215-851-1777
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