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Heat your home safely this winter

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 11:43 a.m. CDT

With cold weather just around the corner, make sure that your home heating systems are safe, suggests the Sycamore Fire Department. Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential fires in rural areas every year. Often, these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

It’s important to have furnaces inspected to ensure they are in good working condition. Have the furnace or boiler serviced annually, and leave repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself if you notice a problem.

Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition. Make sure flue and pipe seams on furnaces and boilers are well supported and free of holes and cracks. If the flue is installed into a masonry chimney, make sure there are no cracks or loose bricks.

Keep trash and other combustibles away from the furnace or boiler, and change the furnace filter regularly.

When using a fireplace, always open the chimney flue. Make sure the chimney isn’t clogged with debris like bird nests prior to use. Hire a professional to clean and inspect your chimney or wood stove once a year.

Don’t burn excessive amounts of paper in your fireplace and never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place ashes in a metal container well away from the house.

Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and don’t use space heaters close to combustibles.

Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working.

Finally, plan and practice a home escape plan with your family so everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of a fire.

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