Keeping your family warm during the cold months of winter is a priority for all of us—and knowing how to do this safely is a must. When winter deals out its harshest weather, stay warm, snug and safe in your home by following these tips.
- If you’re using a fireplace or wood burning stove, use only seasoned wood, and don’t use lighter fluid or gasoline to start the fire. They are highly combustible, and you could risk an explosion or bigger fire than you intended on making. Never use charcoal indoors. It gives off toxic fumes. Be sure you have enough ventilation in the room (keep the damper open), because the fire consumes oxygen. Also be sure to have the chimney cleaned periodically to prevent a buildup of soot, which can cause your chimney to catch on fire. Finally, use a fireplace screen to prevent children and pets from falling into the fire and to catch any flying sparks or logs that may roll out.
- Electric space heaters are useful for supplemental heat, but require some diligence to prevent accidental fires. Only use space heaters that are approved by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL). Be sure there is about a 3-foot clearance around them. This includes anything like curtains, which could be hanging above them. Don’t use space heaters in the bathroom, because moisture and space heaters don’t mix well; never touch a space heater if you are wet. Since space heaters are prone to tipping over, be sure to keep children and pets far away from them.
- Never use an oven to try and heat a room. A gas oven burns oxygen. This causes an improper combustion of gas inside a closed home and will create deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- Be sure to have your furnace serviced every year by a heating repair specialist. We want to prevent problems before they can occur. Common sense should reign when it comes to furnace care. Keep the furnace room clean and the area around the furnace free from debris. Remember not to store chemicals in the furnace room. Change your filter regularly to help keep the furnace running properly and to keep dust from circulating throughout the house.
- While homeowners may sometimes shut heating vents to unused rooms, it’s not a good idea to close off more than 20% of the registers in your house. Doing so can cause too much resistance and cause heat to build up in the furnace.
- Be sure to use smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Carbon monoxide is hard to detect because it is an odorless and colorless gas. It causes flu-like symptoms, along with disorientation, confusion and even death. If you notice family members feeling ill and then better after leaving your home, open the windows, leave the home immediately and have a professional check it for a gas leak.
Using common sense and calling in the heating service experts when needed will help your home to be a warm, safe haven for your family this winter.