Get your home heaters ready for winter
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Monday, October 15, 2012
10/15/12 at 8:04 AM
Tulsa temperatures have already dropped to the freezing mark this month, bringing a taste of the coming season and a reminder that it's time to check home heaters.
Tulsa Fire Department officials say people should have their heating systems checked before firing them up for the winter season, not only to protect against fires caused by buildup and debris, but to make sure the home is protected from carbon monoxide leaks.
Heaters are a common cause of fires during the winter months, according to the National Fire Protection Association. So before furnaces are turned on, they need to be checked, said Stan May, a spokesman for the Tulsa Fire Department.
May said it's important to have a certified technician check the heating mechanism as well as the air ducts.
"Check it all over for fire threat and that the piping is sound so we don't have carbon monoxide leaking," he said.
That first run of the heater during the fall or winter can sometimes cause a burning odor when dust is blown through the system, May said. It's not always a dangerous situation, but people who are concerned should alert the Fire Department, he said.
"If you change your filters and have your ducts cleaned, you probably won't have that issue," May said. "Anytime you have an odor of burning, we don't mind coming out."
People also should be aware of things surrounding space heaters, including the electrical cords and exhaust, May said.
Space heaters account for nearly 80 percent of home-heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Bedding or other items that were too close to a heater account for more than half of the deaths related to home heating.
Heaters that use fuel and emit exhaust create carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and deadly, May said. Home heaters need to be checked for leaks, and portable gas heaters should not be used in closed spaces, May said.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu and will affect everyone in the home, including pets.
"Two years when it really got cold, we had a lot of people using alternative heat sources," May said. "We had a lot of carbon monoxide calls then."
It's also the time of year to check the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure the family has an escape plan and meeting place in case of an emergency, May said.
Original Print Headline: It's time to get your home heaters ready for winter
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Smoke pours out of a Tulsa home after a fire started in a back room. The homeowner said the fire was likely the result of a faulty heater. Tulsa World file