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HEATING YOUR HOME SAFELY THIS WINTER


11/05/20
               

As the weather has been changing and it’s been getting colder, we want to take this opportunity to remind you about home heating safety.

Did you know?

  • Home fires occur more in the winter months than during any other time of the year.
  • Heating is the second leading cause of home hires, behind cooking fires.
  • Heating equipment is also one of the leading causes of home fire deaths.

Whether you are heating your home with a furnace, space heater, wood stove, or fireplace, here are some tips to stay safe this winter.

Smoke Alarms

  • Have working smoke alarms in your home.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on each level of your home and in each bedroom.
  • Test the alarms each month.
  • If you have replaceable batteries, replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every ten years, even if they are hard-wired.

Furnace

  • Never use an oven or BBQ grill to heat your home.
  • Have your furnace and vent checked each year by a qualified professional. A well-tuned furnace will operate more efficiently.
  • Make sure that the equipment is vented properly to the outside.
  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the furnace. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • If you smell gas in your furnace, do not light your appliance. Leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.

Space Heaters – Electric

  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the heater. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over it will shut off. Make sure you place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Do not use extension cords or power strips.  Inspect the cord/plug to make sure they are not damaged.
  • Only use portable heaters tested by a recognized testing laboratory, like UL, ETL, etc.
  • Turn off and unplug the heater before you go to sleep or leave your home.

Wood-Burning and Pellet Stoves

  • Have a qualified professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the stove. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • Wood stoves should be listed by a qualified testing laboratory, like UL, ETL, etc.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood or pellets. Do not burn paper.
  • Keep the doors of your stove closed unless you are loading or stoking the fire.
  • To help prevent chimney fires and/or CO gas leaks, have the chimney/vent cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Fireplace

  • Keep anything that can burn (curtains, bedding, clothing) at least three feet away from the fireplace. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around the device (pets too).
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Never burn trash in the fireplace. Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire. Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline, to start a fire.
  • Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.
  • To help prevent chimney fires and/or CO gas leaks, have the chimney/vent cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Carbon Monoxide

You might ask, what is carbon monoxide and why should I care?  Carbon monoxide, CO, is called the “invisible killer” because it is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, poisonous gas.  It is caused from the incomplete combustion of fuel-burning appliances; fuels such as gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, or other fuels.  Faulty equipment, incorrect or blocked venting, or improperly-used appliances such as stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, dryers, etc. came give off CO gas.

Since we can’t detect CO with our senses, it is important to install CO alarms on each level of your home, close to all of the bedrooms, and at least 15-20 feet from appliances.  The first symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning can feel like the flu: headache, dizziness, or nausea.  More severe poisoning can cause vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, lack of coordination, loss of consciousness, and even death.

  • Remember to test your CO alarms every month.
  • Replace your CO alarm based on manufacturer’s guidelines, approximately every 5-7 years, or when the alarm starts chirping with the “end of useful life” chirp sequence.
  • Know the difference between an alarm sound and a chirp. Check the back of the alarm to determine what the sounds means.
  • If your CO alarm sounds an alarm, get to fresh air and call 9-1-1.
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