Caution: Winter Heating Season Ahead!

The past few days here in Connecticut have seen some unseasonably cold weather, with temperatures in the teens and low 20’s, and wind gusts making it seem like single digits outside. If you like us, you’ve been making sure the old gas fireplace is on early, making the house warm and comfy for meals and relaxing later in the evening. This is typical here in frigid New England, where Nor’easter’s can blow through in short order, leaving piles of snow and shivering bodies in its wake. But once that fire is going, the frightful weather is forgotten and all is right with the world again.

Unless, of course, your fireplace is malfunctioning, which can lead to a host of problems, including injury, property damage, and even death. A story in the local paper yesterday about two home heating related incidents in Southington brought this into sharp focus.

In the first, firefighters responded to 100 Bristol St. due to high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) coming from the basement furnace. Although a fire department spokesman said the furnace appeared to be functioning properly, a Yankee Gas employee confirmed that the furnace was emitting very high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning manifests itself with symptoms much like the flu, including headache and nausea.

The second incident involved a report of “something burning” at a home at 55 Pebble Drive. An investigation revealed that a wood stove had been cleaned out earlier in the day and the ashes were placed on the back deck in a paper bag. The problem is, the ashes were not completely extinguished and they quickly burned away the bag and started to burn the deck! While ashes may appear cool on the outside, they can remain burning on the inside for hours, and even days. Although there was minimal damage to the house, part of the deck had to be removed.

These are just two heating related stories of the young heating season, and they’re surely not going to be the last, but there are many things you can do to make sure your family is safe and warm this winter. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the United States Fire Administration, has a very good brochure with home heating safety tips that can be found here. It contains advice on proper use of furnaces, fireplaces and kerosene heaters, as well as other fire safety tips. In addition, here are some other links to home heating safety advice:

Gas Fireplace Safety

Furnace Safety and Maintenance Advice for Homeowners

Winter Fire Safety

Energy and Fire Safety Tips for the Heating Season (pdf)

Hazards from Furnaces, Space Heaters and Fireplaces

There are many other good resources for fireplace and furnace tips, including your local fire department, gas company or fireplace store. Take the time to ensure your family’s safety this year, before you fire up that fire.

Don’t let this:

Turn into this…

Stay safe and warm this Holiday Season!

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