Keep Warm Wisely: How to Safely Heat Your Massachusetts Home
Fri, Jan 20th, 2012
Is there anything quite so pleasant as coming home to a warm and cozy house on a cold winter's day? Home isn't just where the heart is; in the winter, it's also where the hearth is.
Heat comes to us in many forms: electric, gas, portable space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces. All of these can pose a threat to a Massachusetts home's safetynot to mention that of its residentsif they are not properly maintained and managed. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating fires are the second leading cause of all residential building fires. About 50 percent of all fires that result from home heating equipment are reported during the months of December, January, and February. Fortunately, it is possible to stay warm safely this winter by following a few simple suggestions.
- Have your chimney professionally cleaned before lighting the first fire of the year. Removing all debris from the chimney and opening the flue will ensure that your home remains free of dangerous smoke.
- Use only seasoned hardwood such as ash, oak, or maple in your fireplace. Do not burn trash or cardboard boxes.
- Employ fireplace screens or glass fireplace doors to keep embers off of rugs and carpets.
- If you have a gas heating system, place carbon monoxide detectors in your home. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, carbon monoxidealso known as the "silent killer"kills about 300 people in their homes annually. There are small, convenient detectors that plug into electrical outlets and sound an alarm if carbon monoxide is in the air. Keep at least one near every sleeping area.
- Never leave electric space heaters on if they are unattended, and always position them away from flammable objects, as well as from people, pets, furniture, and curtains. Unplug them when they are not in use.
- Maintain a three-foot kid-free zone around all heating sources.
- Pay a professional to examine and clean your home's heating unit annually. He or she can repair potentially deadly leaks.
- Clean your home's air vents by removing their covers and vacuuming out any dust or debris that may have accumulated in them during warmer weather.
- Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home, and always use gas or charcoal grills outdoors.
- If you ever smell gas, immediately extinguish all flames in your home, put out cigarettes, and do not operate electrical appliances because they may create sparks. Turn off all gas appliances and make sure pilot lights are out. If you still smell gas after opening windows and doors, turn off your home's main gas tap. Call the gas company immediately and evacuate.
- If a pilot light goes out, turn off the gas at that heat source and wait several minutes before re-lighting it.
- If your pilot light produces a red or yellow flame, call for service; the flame should be blue.
- Finally, make sure your smoke alarms are all functioning properly.
Call or contact Harrington Insurance today to make sure your home insurance policy is up to date.
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