Colder weather can bring heating dangers, experts warn

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 5:25 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Heating equipment is the leading cause of fires in U.S. homes.

As it gets colder outside, more people are turning their heat on. Experts say when you do, you should make sure your house is ready.

Russell Bedell with Columbia Gas of Virginia said you should have your heating unit inspected every year, change your unit filters and change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“Carbon monoxide is relatively harmless in open spaces, but it’s very poisonous if it’s allowed to accumulate, and one way carbon monoxide can accumulate is through a malfunctioning appliance or an appliance that’s not vented properly,” Bedell said.

Carbon monoxide can be a result of any malfunctioning heating device, including natural gas, kerosene and wood. Bedell said it’s important to only use tools intended to heat indoor space.

“Make sure that you never use stoves or ovens or outdoor grills as a source of indoor heat. Sometimes people will try to heat their homes with their oven door open and that’s both a fire hazard and a carbon monoxide hazard,” Bedell said.

He said space heaters can be a really useful source of heat, but they should only be used under supervision and never left on at night.

“Always place it on a level, hard surface, and always keep it at least three feet from anything that’s flammable: paper, clothing curtains,” Bedell said. “Make sure it’s turned off before leaving the room or going to bed.”

Local fire departments nationally responded to over 48,000 fires involving heating units from 2014-2018, resulting in about 500 civilian deaths.

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