EXTREME COLD CONCERNS: Stoves, space heaters, heating, plumbing

Don’t use the stove for heat, be careful with space heaters, and monitor the heating and water systems.

That’s some of the cold weather advice being offered by the United Illuminating Co., with temperatures expected to dip below zero tonight.

The risk of fire, carbon monoxide exposure and other hazards can increase as residents seek to stay warm during the extreme cold, said James P. Torgerson, president and CEO of UIL Holdings, parent company of the UI electric provider that serves Shelton.

“As this extreme cold weather sets in, we encourage our customers to take a look around their homes and make sure they’re able to keep themselves and their families warm in the days ahead, and to identify any potential safety risks that need to be addressed,” Torgerson said.

Here are some safety tips for the extreme cold:

Stove and Range

The stove, range and other kitchen appliances are designed for cooking, not heating. Avoid using appliances improperly.

In addition to creating a fire hazard, a natural gas stove or oven can present a carbon-monoxide risk when used for space heating.

Space heaters

Use a space heater that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use a device designed for outdoor use indoors.

Place the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, at least three feet from combustible materials. Inspect the cord for fraying, and after plugging it in, periodically feel the cord near the outlet to make sure the plastic is not getting hot.

Do not run the space heater cord under a rug or carpeting, and never use an extension cord for a space heater. Keep children and pets away, and turn off the space heater when you leave the area.

Heating, hot water, plumbing

Keep the furnace area clear of flammable materials and keep vents clear to provide a good air supply to your heating system to ensure proper combustion. Don’t ignore drips or odd noises from the heating system — call your heating company to investigate.

Wrap exposed pipes in the basement with pipe insulation to help them retain heat and avoid freezing.

Staying warm

If unable to keep a home heated safely and comfortably, call Infoline at 2-1-1 for help. When exposed to cold temperatures, wear warm clothing in order to avoid hypothermia.

The elderly and infants are especially susceptible to hypothermia. Excessive shivering, drowsiness, speech difficulties, irregular heartbeat and unconsciousness are all signs of hypothermia. If someone in a household exhibits these traits, get medical attention immediately.

Fire and CO detectors

Place smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of a home, outside of sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to make sure the batteries are working, and replace the batteries at least twice a year.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless, but toxic. It is the product of incomplete combustion, which can result from a furnace or space heater problem. Symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu, so make sure the CO detector is in working order.

About UI and its parent firm

The United Illuminating Co. provides electrical service to Shelton and other towns in Fairfield and New Haven counties. It is part of New Haven-based UIL Holdings Corp., which also includes the Southern Connecticut Gas Co., Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., and Berkshire Gas Co. of Massachusetts.

UIL Holdings Corp. has more than 700,000 electric and natural gas utility customers, and employs over 1,850 people.