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Heat your home safely, avoid carbon monoxide dangers this winter

Holly Viers • Dec 23, 2017 at 9:30 PM

KINGSPORT — As temperatures dip into the teens and 20s, many people will be cranking up the heaters homes to stay warm.

With this in mind, the Kingsport Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have provided the following tips to keep you and your family safe.

Heating equipment

According to the NFPA, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Unsurprisingly, half of those heating-equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February.

By taking the simple steps listed below, you can prevent most heating-related fires.

• Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.

• Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

• Never use your oven to heat your home.

• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

• Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.

• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

• If you are using a kerosene heater, fireplace or wood-burning stove, make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors.

• Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

Carbon monoxide dangers

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels — such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane — burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

Follow the tips below to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide.

• Install CO alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, all sound.

• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.

• Choose a CO alarm that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.

• Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.

• Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

• If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If the signal still sounds, call the fire department.

• If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel declare that it is safe to re-enter the home.

• If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.

• During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow buildup.

• A generator should be used only in a well-ventilated location.

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