Cold weather means many residents will be turning on heating systems
that have not been used since spring. Before heating systems are
turned on, they should be checked to make sure they operate properly
and safely. A family member can do this, but remember to read and
follow all instructions carefully.
Instructions are supplied by the manufacturer and usually are located
on the inside door cover near the pilot light. If the instructions
can't be located or you're unsure of the proper procedure, call
a professional service person or someone qualified to insure the
job is done correctly.
Filters should be changed at the beginning of the season and then
checked monthly to make sure they are not clogged or blocking airflow.
Remember most fires involving furnaces will take place in the cold
hours before dawn when the furnace must work the hardest and people
are sleeping most heavily.
Wall heaters should be checked for proper ignition and proper ventilation.
Soot or black marks on the wall can mean that the burner jets are
dirty or not adjusted to burn the fuel properly. This means higher
amounts of carbon monoxide are being created. Without ventilation
to the outside, carbon monoxide fumes accumulate in the home. A
flushed face or a slight headache can be the first signs of carbon
monoxide poisoning. If this happens, get everyone out of the house
and call 9-1-1 for the fire department from a neighbor's house.
Space heaters need at least three feet of space between the heater
and combustibles like drapes, furniture and beds. Also, make sure
small children cannot get near space heaters and suffer contact
burns from touching them. As with any electrical appliance, check
the cord to make sure it is not frayed or worn. Extension cords
should not be used with electric space heaters. Electric space heaters
also are dangerous in the bathroom because of cramped space and
radiated heat as well as the danger of electrical appliances and
water. Never touch an electric space heater with wet hands or when
in contact with water. Never leave a space heater on when going
to bed or leaving the house.
The Fire Department does not recommend the use of kerosene heaters
in homes. If a kerosene heater must be used, be sure to follow the
manufacturer's instructions carefully. Use only the manufacturer's
approved fuel. Store the fuel outside the house and always let the
heater cool before filling it outside the home. Kerosene heaters
must have adequate ventilation because they use up oxygen inside
a room as they operate.
Charcoal Briquettes and Barbecues
Charcoal briquettes and barbecues never should be used for cooking
or heating inside the home or any other closed area. They can quickly
fill a closed space with carbon monoxide fumes.