As cold weather comes to Dodge City, many are beginning to let their home environment warm up instead of cool down. But it is important to remember several key safety tips when heating up your home this season.
It is important to properly service your heating system for the sake of both safety and efficiency. One aspect of this is cleaning or replacing the filter. When filters aren't replaced the furnace has to work harder to compensate for poor airflow. The furnaces will get hotter than normal, increasing the chance of a fire. Many manufacturers recommend changing the filter once per month and at a minimum they should be changed once per quarter, according to Dodge City Fire Chief Kevin Norton.
Norton recommends having a professional inspection done each year. It is important to make sure that all vents are intact. If you have a portable heater, don't place anything combustible nearby.
Fireplaces can also be hazardous, with creosote building up on the inside of a chimney. The chimney should be cleaned yearly and it is important to burn the correct type of wood, since burning wood with treatment can lead to a creosote buildup. Not only can excess creosote cause a fire, it can also cause a buildup of carbon monoxide. The outside of the chimney should also be inspected and it is important that the mortar on a chimney be in good condition. It is also vital to keep a protective cover in front of the fire.
Some homes will use a kerosene or electric heater and it is important that these be inspected too. Electric heaters should be placed away from flammable materials. Extension cords should be long enough and rated to handle that particular heater. Do not run electrical cords under a rug.
This time of year is also a good time to check the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. According to Norton, a good time to change the smoke detectors is at daylight savings time.
House fires can increase in number as homes switch from cooling to heating, making it important to follow safety procedures.