ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ)– Temperatures are starting to drop below 40 degrees, which causes folks to turn on their space heaters and furnaces. Before you flip the ‘on’ switch, it’s best to take precautionary steps to prevent any fires.
Altoona Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Michael Hawksworth says that the first thing you should do is have your furnace checked by professionals.
“It’s very important to get a furnace technician out and have them check your furnace,” Hawksworth said. “Make sure everything is free and that there’s no bird’s nest in your vents or anything; nothing is holding your vents that could cause CO to come into your house.”
When Hawksworth mentions CO, he means carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly. It can build up during the summer season and then be exposed through the fumes in the winter. That, in turn, causes an increase in the amount of carbon monoxide calls to stations.
Hawksworth says that it’s crucial to have any smoke and carbon monoxide detectors be checked and ready come the season. Then not use stoves to provide heat to your house either.
“CO comes really important this time of year cause everything is sealed up in our house,” Hawksworth said. “Our house appliances are working, and if something is blocking, we can get CO in the house.”
Carbon monoxide can also be exposed by your car. Before leaving for your morning commute, Hawksworth said that you should let your vehicle run outside and get warm.
Altoona residents can potentially qualify for free installations of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors when they call the Altoona Fire Department. For non-Altoona residents, many stores carry these detectors, and local fire departments can provide instructions for installing them.
“Give your local fire department a call,” Hawksworth said. “They can give you advice on how to properly install them, where to install them so that you’re safe for the winter season.”
If you’re using a space heater, it’s recommended to keep the heater three feet away from anything flammable. Then, plug the heater directly into a wall outlet instead of using an extension cord.
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