Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Nov. 24, 2004

Important Safety Tips for Heating Your Home this Winter

If you haven't already done so, now is a good time to make sure that your furnace is in good condition. With the high cost of home heating fuels, you will want to make sure that your furnace is operating most efficiently. Furnaces that aren't running properly can release carbon monoxide, a dangerous, invisible gas, into your home.

The Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) shares these tips from the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help you maintain a fire-safe home this winter:

  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shut-offs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
  • Check the flues and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around the seams may indicate a leak.
  • Is the chimney solid? No cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

Other fire safety tips

  • If you have a fireplace or woodstove, never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • Never use a range or oven as a supplementary heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
  • If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords that have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.
  • Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms, or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
  • Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame. The pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Use hot water or a UL labeled device such as a handheld dryer for thawing.
  • If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so it can be located if needed.
  • Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke detector, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.

For more information about emergency planning around the home, contact the Local Emergency Planning Committee, phone 591-9150.

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