The New Year is upon us and I hope with all my heart that everyone reading this has a happy and fruitful year. The New Year arrives in the dead of winter, and cold weather brings with it too many injuries and too much property damage. Many home fires and carbon monoxide poisonings stem from faulty furnaces and unsafe practices, like placing flammable materials too close to furnaces and other heat sources. To keep from being one of those statistics, here are some simple household safety tips related to your furnace and its surroundings.
- Every home should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors placed in strategic areas, especially within 10-15 feet of bedrooms. Research by the National Fire Protection Association tells us that around half of home fire deaths result from fires occurring between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a house fire in half and CO is odorless and undetectable without an alarm.
- Multi-story homes should have CO and smoke detectors on every level. Don’t place the devices directly inside kitchens or bathrooms. Humid air may interfere with their functioning and kitchen smoke may set off too many false fire alarms. CO detectors placed too near your furnace are also likely to give off nuisance alarms. Be sure to replace batteries in your CO and smoke alarms at least once a year.
- Don’t turn thermostats all the way off when you go away for any length of time. Keep them set at least to 50-60 degrees to make sure pipes don’t freeze in the event of a cold snap.
- After a heavy snow or ice storm, go outside to check that sidewall vents from your furnace and other household appliances have not been blocked by snow or ice. Blockages can cause CO to build up inside. The same goes for your roof vents.
- While you’re outside doing this, visually check your neighbors’ vents if you think of it. Especially if they’re elderly and/or disabled. In this case, being a nosey neighbor could save someone’s life.
- Be extremely cautious using electric space heaters. Avoid using them in the house and if you use them in a garage or cold basement, keep children away, make sure the plug fits tightly and turn them off when you leave the area. Better yet, turn them off and pull the plug out when you leave. Use heavy-duty cords with space heaters. Small extension cords are okay for reading lamps but the wattage of a space heater can heat them up and start a fire.
- Be sure to schedule an annual inspection/maintenance service for your heating system. Sign up for our low-cost service plans to assure you get reminded by us. It’s the best way to keep your heating and cooling system in tip-top shape and extend the life of your equipment.