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Home-heating safety tips from Sycamore Fire Dept.

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 11:56 a.m. CDT

Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home 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 that you have your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working condition. Here are some points for maintaining your furnace:

• Have your furnace or boiler serviced annually.

• Leave furnace or boiler 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.

• On the furnace or boiler, check the flue and pipe seams. Make sure that they are well supported, free of holes and cracks. If the flue is installed into a masonry chimney, make sure that there are not any cracks or loose bricks.

• Keep trash and other combustibles away from the furnace or boiler.

• Change your furnace filter regularly, per manufacturer’s specifications.

Here are some tips for using your fireplace or wood stove safely:

• Always open the chimney flue when you use your fireplace.

• Make sure the chimney isn’t clogged with debris (e.g., a birds nest) prior to use.

• Hire a professional to clean and inspect your chimney or wood stove once a year.

• Have a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace.

• Keep all flammables at least three feet away from the chimney or wood stove.

• Don’t burn excessive amounts of paper in your fireplace.

• Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place ashes in a metal container well away from the house.

Other heating safety measures:

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

• Never heat your home with your gas range or oven.

• Never burn charcoal inside your home or garage.

• Never run gasoline-powered generators inside homes or garages.

Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working. Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke detector, and test smoke detectors monthly. Install a carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet of any room used for sleeping in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.

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