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Potential dangers of heating your home: how to stay safe

Space heaters cause 25,000 residential fires a year and send 6,000 Americans to the emergency room, according to The Consumer Product Safety Commission.

We’re well into fall and we’re all trying to stay warm. But, heating up, could put you and your family in danger, if you’re not careful. 

About 300 people die each year from accidents caused by space heaters. Without taking the proper precautions, something as simple as staying warm could lead to disaster. 

Chris White, a Heating Contractor with Don Carter Heating and Cooling, he says exercising safety is imperative when using a portable heater. He adds, “something around 74 percent of electric house fires in the winter time are related back to portable electric heaters.”

White says this is a big concern. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, space heaters cause 25,000 residential fires a year and send 6,000 Americans to the emergency room.

White says that sometimes, users underestimate the damage a space heater can do to a home and a to a person’s body. He adds, “Some people get real close, get nice and warm, but they don’t realize that’s getting heated to the point of combustion.”

This year, adhere to the “3-feet rule”. Make sure you keep your portable heaters 3 feet away from furniture, curtains and bedding. You also want to make sure you don’t allow space heaters near any flammable liquids. Never set space heaters on carpet or rugs–just flat smooth flooring. 

Chris White advises users to be safe rather than sorry when making their choice of portable heaters. White adds, “Make sure if you have one, it has an emergency shut off switch, a tip-switch. So, if it were to tip over, it would switch off.”

If you have a combustion space heater, or a gas powered furnace in your home, make sure it’s inspected each year, has a guard around the unit, and is never on while you’re falling asleep . If the heater isn’t vented properly, blocked, rusted or corroded, you could fall victim to carbon monoxide poisoning– which could kill in as quickly as 5 hours.

Now is the time to get your heaters and furnaces checked, and make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home that runs on batteries, as well as one that plugs in– for each level of your home. Heating systems cause almost 40 percent of  non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in America. 

Chris White adds this bit of advice with your furnaces. He says let the furnace closet hold only the furnace to avoid any ventilation or fire issues. White says, “A lot of those Huntsville houses have furnaces in closets. So you got to the closet, there’s your filter– open it up there’s the furnace sitting there. So you have to make sure you to have fresh air coming from the top and the bottom- to make sure it’s able to breathe and get the air flowing through the system so it can work like it’s supposed to.”