Stay safe as you keep warm this winter

As temperatures drop, the Office of the State Fire Marshal encourages residents to have their furnaces checked and to make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes, which accounted for 15 percent of all reported home fires in 2012-2016 and 19 percent of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Furthermore, failing or unmaintained heating equipment can also lead to accidental carbon monoxide fatalities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is found in fumes produced when you burn fuel in places such as fireplaces and furnaces.

“Carbon monoxide fatalities rise during the winter months, and these alarms, when working, will give you a warning and let you know to leave your home when levels are too high. Never use a gas generator, grill, oven or range to heat the inside of your home,” states Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.

To help keep your home safe this winter, consider these winter heating safety tips provided by the Office of the State Fire Marshal:

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional; change furnace filters frequently.
  • Have a qualified professional to install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages or obstructions.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before being placed into a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month and be familiar with the sounds they make.
  • Never use an oven or range to heat your home.
  • Remember to turn off portable or space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on each floor of your home and within 15 feet of each sleeping area.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors have a limited life span, so check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on replacement.

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