Tips for safely heating your home in the fall and winter

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HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s the danger we can’t see.

The heat is on in many homes across the region, and that can cause serious problems like potentially deadly gas leaks. We’ve seen at least two house explosions in our area in the last month.

One in Wayne County left a woman severely burned. Eyewitness News asked a local fire chief what people need to know.

A pile of rubble was all that was left of a Wayne County woman’s home after it suddenly exploded on September 20th. She narrowly survived the blast, which left her with second and third degree burns.

An investigation determined propane had built up in the basement.

“Natural gas is lighter than air so its going to dissipate in the air, but propane is heavier and it will lay in basements and crawl spaces, and you need to be aware of that,” Hanover Township Fire Chief Joe Temarantz said.

Two weeks later on October 4th, two homes exploded in Monroe County about 10 miles apart. The causes are under investigation, but neighbors were certain the explosion in Coolbaugh Township started from some type of gas leak.

They were talking about a propane dryer,” Joe Poma said.

Poma says he heard the blast from two blocks away. Thankfully no one was home. But Poma says a lot of people in Monroe County use propane tanks for more than just heating their home.

“They use it for their cooking, they use it for their fireplace, they use it for their dryer,” Poma said.

Poma uses it for cooking and for his fireplace.

“Especially the stoves, you have to be very careful when you clean them. The knobs, sometimes they open and propane starts to come out,” Poma said.

Temarantz says we’re likely seeing more accidents because it’s getting colder and some people aren’t following basic safety advice.

“People are starting to fire up their heating services again, without having them checked by a professional,” Temarantz said.

Leaks are incredibly dangerous. Firefighters can detect a leak with these gas meters. Temarantz says as soon as you smell the gas, get out.

“There’s not a question of, ‘well I’m just going to go check, I’m gonna look.’ Get out, get away from the house and call 911,” Temarantz said.

A gas leak will smell like rotten eggs or a dead animal. If the propane is in use in an area that is not well-ventilated, all it takes is a single spark to ignite an explosion.

Chief Temarantz suggests having a professional check your heating systems before turning up the thermostat. And since October is Fire Prevention Month, it’s also a good time to check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and don’t forget to change the batteries.

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