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Unseasonably cool weather has hit the Tri-Cities in recent days, leading many people to turn on the heat for the first time this fall.
Normal lows for this time of year are in the 40s and highs are in the mid-60s. Temperatures Friday night are expected to dip into the low 30s and possibly the high 20s.
The onset of the cold snap may cause people to rush to turn on their heaters and in their hurry forget some important safety tips.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths.
“People need to think about where their heaters are,” said Barry Brickey, public information officer for the Kingsport Fire Department. “There needs to be a 3-foot space around heaters, especially kerosene heaters.”
Here are some tips to help protect your home and your family from heating equipment fires:
• Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
• Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, whether it’s a furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable heater.
• Only use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Never use your oven for home heating.
• Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually.
• Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
• For fuel-burning space heaters, always use the fuel specified by the manufacturer.
• Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.
• For wood-burning stoves, install chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation.
• Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and windows. Call a gas service person.
• Test smoke alarms monthly.