Heating Safety Tips

If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be turning on the heat, or building that first cozy fire of the season. It’s getting chilly out there, and sometimes donning a warm sweater and wrapping up in a fuzzy blanket just isn’t enough. To ensure the colder months are both toasty, and safe, make sure you follow some important guidelines when it comes to heating your home this season.

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1. Have your chimney inspected, and if necessary, cleaned and repaired by a professional. A build-up of creosote, animals who have taken up residence in the flue, and broken chimney tiles are just several possible causes of chimney fires. Being careless with your chimney’s integrity can not only cause a fire in the chimney itself, but can also cause the fire to spread throughout the rest of the house. Make sure you also use only seasoned, dry wood, and employ a screen that blocks sparks from exiting the fireplace. Be vigilant if you plan to use your fireplace this winter!

2. Have your heating system inspected as well, and make sure any required maintenance or repairs are carried out as soon as possible. Once winter’s in full-swing, you’ll regret waiting to have a professional assess your system. A system in disrepair can be dangerous, as well as disappointing. Waking up on Christmas day with no heat can make for a blue holiday!

3. What’s worse than no heat, is no hot water! Be sure your water heater is working efficiently and effectively, and repair or replace it if necessary.

4. Keep anything flammable away from heat sources like space heaters, fireplaces, radiators, furnaces, or baseboard heaters.

5. Have a fire escape plan for your household, and rehearse it until each family member knows it by heart. Purchase rope ladders for rooms on upper stories of your home if needed, and instruct each room’s occupant about proper use in an emergency situation.

6. Ensure that any other oil, coal, or gas burning appliances are in good working order, and vent properly, so carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t become an issue. Generators, charcoal grills, and any other fueled devices must be used outdoors only, and never near an open window. Consider purchasing a safe, clean solar-powered generator before the cold weather sets in.

7. Test all smoke detectors in your home and replace any older batteries. Purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors as well if your home is not already equipped with them. Batteries in these detectors should be replaced twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to do so at the same time you change your clocks at the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time (DST).

8. Know the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can not be detected with your senses alone. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic those of a virus, such as fatigue, headaches, confusion, sleepiness, and irritability. At even more dangerous levels, further symptoms like impaired vision, vomiting, nausea, loss of coordination, and even death can occur. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately evacuate the premises and call 911.

9. Monitor any open flame or in-use cooking device, such as candles, fireplace fires, hot plates, crock pots, microwaves, stoves, and ovens. Never attempt to use cooking devices, such as your oven, to heat your home.

10. If you smell natural gas, open all doors and windows, and call the gas company’s emergency line immediately.

Winter can be a wonderful, fun, cozy season if you take the proper precautions with heating and fire safety. A little preparation goes a long way, during the seemingly longest of all the seasons. Call Scully today, and find out how we help you get ready for the cold weather!

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