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Heating Your Home This Winter: Safety Tips

Winter will hit the Midwest before we can say, “brrr.” Keep warm and stay safe this winter with these heating safety tips.

As the winter season approaches, keeping your home warm and cozy becomes a top priority. However, ensuring that you heat your home safely is equally important. Heating equipment is a culprit in one out of every seven home fires, so it’s essential to take precautions.

Here are some crucial tips from the Legacy Pros to help you safely heat your home this winter.

Maintain Your Heating System With A Tune-Up

Before the cold weather sets in, have your heating system inspected by a professional technician. Regular maintenance ensures that your system operates efficiently, safely, and annual tune ups are required to maintain your warranty.

During a tune up, a professional HVAC technician will:

  • Clean blowers and fan blades of dirt and buildup
  • Test burners, pilot light, thermostat
  • Inspect wiring and check connections
  • Check for overall wear-and-tear internally
  • Check for safety issues
  • Replace air filter if necessary
  • Perform any minor repairs

A well-maintained system can be up to 20% more efficient and, most importantly, is less likely to cause fires or carbon monoxide leaks.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly when inhaled in large quantities. In fact, the CDC reports that nearly 50,000 people report to the hospital annually with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide from heat sources like your home’s furnace can build up in enclosed spaces. People and animals can be poisoned or even die from breathing carbon monoxide gas.

Ensure your home has CO detectors installed near sleeping areas and on every level; these devices can save lives by alerting you to the presence of dangerous levels of CO.

Avoid a potentially fatal incident and have your system inspected annually by a qualified technician. Check the batteries in your CO detector every 6 months and if you don’t have a CO detector in your home, get one. You can learn more about preventing and recognizing carbon monoxide poisoning here.

Check Your Smoke Alarms

We don’t need to remind you about the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home. But we will. Smoke detectors are your early warning system against fires. Regular maintenance ensures they’re ready to do their job when needed. Smoke detectors play a crucial role in protecting your home and family in an emergency.

Here’s how to maintain your smoke detectors:

  1. Test Monthly: Push that test button monthly to make sure they’re working correctly. A loud beep means they’re on duty!
  2. Change Batteries: Swap out those batteries at least once a year, or when they start chirping. Don’t wait until they’re completely drained.
  3. Clean Regularly: Dust and debris can affect sensor performance. Gently vacuum or wipe them down to keep them in top shape.
  4. Replace Every 10 Years: Smoke detectors have a lifespan. If yours are a decade old or more, it’s time for a new set.
  5. Interconnected Detectors: For added safety, consider interconnected detectors, so if one goes off, they all do.

Space Heater Safety

As winter approaches, many of us turn to space heaters for extra warmth. While they’re handy, it’s crucial to prioritize safety when using them. Here’s why:

  • Fire Hazard: Space heaters can cause fires if not used correctly. Keep them away from flammable items like curtains, furniture, and papers.
  • Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Never use gas-powered heaters indoors.
  • Electric Safety: Inspect cords and plugs for damage, and avoid overloading circuits. Plug heaters directly into outlets, not extension cords.
  • Unattended Use: Never leave space heaters unattended. Turn them off when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Fire Extinguishers: Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.

If you’re using space heaters, follow these safety tips:

  • Keep them at least three feet away from flammable objects.
  • Place them on a flat, stable surface.
  • Never leave space heaters unattended.
  • Ensure they have tip-over and overheat protection features.

Fireplace Safety

For ambiance, there’s nothing quite like a fireplace. Let’s enjoy the warmth of our fireplaces while putting safety first. Here’s why fireplace safety matters:

  • Prevent Fires: Regularly clean and inspect your chimney and flue to avoid dangerous creosote buildup, which can lead to chimney fires.
  • Use Screens: Always use a sturdy screen or glass enclosure to keep sparks and embers from escaping and causing accidents.
  • Wood Quality: Burn only dry, seasoned hardwood. Avoid burning trash, treated wood, or paper, which can release harmful chemicals.
  • Keep Kids & Pets Safe: Create a safety zone around the fireplace to prevent accidents. Ensure children and pets are supervised near the flames.
  • Dispose of Ashes Safely: Let ashes cool in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid before disposal. Keep it away from flammable materials.

Fireplaces provide warmth and atmosphere, but they require extra precautions:

  • Have your chimney and flue inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Use a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from escaping.
  • Never burn trash or treated wood in your fireplace or stove.
  • Store firewood away from your home, and use a designated area for burning.

Safe Heating Tips

If you’re using electric heating equipment, follow these safety tips:

  • Inspect cords and plugs used for electric heating equipment for damage regularly.
  • Avoid overloading electrical circuits.
  • Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets, not into extension cords.
  • Unplug portable heaters when not in use.
  • Keep flammable items like curtains, furniture, and décor at least three feet away from heat sources.
  • Ensure you have a working fire extinguisher in your home. Know how to use it and check its expiration date regularly.
  • Develop an emergency plan. Make sure your family knows how to evacuate and where to meet in case of a house fire or other emergency.
  • Stay updated on weather conditions and follow local news and alerts. Extreme cold strains heating systems, so be prepared for outages and other issues.

Our Thoughts

Keeping your home warm during the winter is a priority for comfort and safety. By following these tips, you can ensure that you heat your home safely and reduce the risk of heating-related accidents. Remember to schedule regular maintenance for your heating system, install carbon monoxide detectors, and follow safety guidelines for various heating sources. With the right precautions, you can enjoy a cozy and safe winter at home. Don’t forget to check our Offers page throughout the year for extra savings on routine maintenance, installs, and other services.

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