Experts urge Caution, Awareness with Home Heating
Chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning can be killers in the winter
by Wyoming Family Services
December 23, 2008
As families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, experts are reminding everyone to safely heat homes, especially as they look for ways to save energy and pinch pennies.
Cranking up the gas stove or bringing the outdoor barbecue inside to heat their home might seem like a way to save, but experts say those are very bad ideas.
"You should never use a stove for cooking to heat your home," says Steve Skoranski, programs manager with the Wyoming State Fire Marshalís Office. "Not only is it very inefficient, but with your kitchenís gas stove, the pilot could go out and gas still be on."
That can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, the signs of which can be headaches and unusual tiredness. Exposure to the odorless, colorless gas can cause brain damage and even death. Children and pets often are the first to show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, Skoranski noted.
Even your natural gas furnace can be hazardous if itís not properly maintained and inspected.
"A lot of it (home heating safety) is about ventilation," Skoranski says. "Think about it, if thereís a lot of snow, and the vents get blocked, that carbon monoxide stays in your house."
Taking a look at flues and vents are just one of the many things Wyoming Weatherization Services crews do in the interests of keeping clients safe year round, says the programís director, Troy Ouderkirk.
"We install a lot of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for just those possibilities," he added.
If you have questions about your heaterís safety, call your local fire department and ask firefighters to come take a look or call your local utility company. Most utilities are happy to do that for their customers, Skoranski said.
Editorís Note: Sublette County Fire Warden T.J. Hunt said he wants people to be aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning this time of year. EMS and Fire crews have already responded to cases of carbon monoxide poisoning here this winter. "It is one of the big killers this time of year," Hunt said. He encourages people to purchase carbon monoxide detectors along with smoke alarms. "They are very inexpensive and will save your life." Hunt said personnel from any of the local fire departments are happy to come out to peopleís homes and check for carbon monoxide. "We provide that service."