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Archive for Monday, October 10, 2011

As cold weather approaches, make sure your house is safely heated

Chad Hull, a service technician with Cloud Heating, makes a service inspection on a home gas furnace in this 2009 file photo. Despite recent warm weather, experts say that it's never too early to consider safety regarding heating your home.

Chad Hull, a service technician with Cloud Heating, makes a service inspection on a home gas furnace in this 2009 file photo. Despite recent warm weather, experts say that it's never too early to consider safety regarding heating your home.

October 10, 2011

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It was so nice last weekend that you probably don’t even want to think about having to turn your heat on at home.

But remember all of those brutally cold and snowy days last winter?

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but chilly winter days are on their way — at least at some point. Forecasters predict highs in the 70s and 80s for at least the next week.

Lawrence fire and natural gas officials say now is the perfect time to prepare your home for the winter.

“It’s still pretty warm out,” said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Eve Tolefree. “I think people just get complacent with putting off having their furnace inspected because it is so warm. This is a good time of year to start thinking about it.”

She said fire is also a danger during winter months, because some people use space heaters and other objects improperly to try to keep warm.

Curt Floerchinger, a spokesman for Black Hills Energy, said his company advises residents have professional heating specialists do inspections now.

“You don’t want to have to worry about whether your furnace works if you’ve got a drafty home, that type of thing, when it’s time to turn on the furnace or it’s 30 degrees outside,” he said.

Floerchinger and Tolefree also said it’s best to have professionals check your furnace to help you avoid high carbon monoxide levels in your home that can extremely dangerous.

They offered several safety tips as winter approaches.

Avoiding carbon monoxide problems:

• Have a qualified technician inspect your natural gas furnace and other gas appliances.

• Check vents and chimneys to make sure they’re clear and undamaged and install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

• Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to the flu and can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath. If you feel better once you go outside but worse when you return inside, carbon monoxide exposure is likely causing your symptoms.

• Open windows and doors to ventilate or evacuate your home in severe cases and call 911. Also seek immediate medical treatment for anyone who has severe symptoms.

Fire safety:

• When you buy a portable or fixed space heater, make sure it carries the mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

• Make sure wood stoves are properly installed.

• Have a professional annually inspect your fireplace or wood or coal stove.

• Keep portable space heaters at least three feet from anything than could burn, and have a three-foot “kids-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

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