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Warm up safely — tips for checking your heating system
With this fall’s first appearance of cold temperatures, your utility company reminds customers to get their heating systems ready for winter. The utility recommends having a licensed, insured contractor clean and inspect heating systems annually to ensure maximum efficiency and to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning or fire.
A dirty and faulty heating system can lead to those life-threatening risks. According to the San Antonio Fire Department, faulty heating systems resulted in 70 local incidents of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning during a six-month period from October 2010 through March 2011. Eleven of those cases required Emergency Medical Services transport.
The following safety tips may help keep you and your family safe this winter:
•Follow manufacturer’s instructions with all heating appliances.
•Have heating appliances installed, serviced, and repaired by qualified professionals.
•Keep chimney flues and vents for all heating appliances clean and in good condition.
•Keep areas around furnaces and water heaters clean and free of flammable materials.
•Check the flame on natural gas appliances -- it should be blue. If not, have a service technician check the appliance.
•Always leave a window open 1 to 2 inches in the room where an unvented natural gas space heater is being used.
•Never use the kitchen range as a space heater. This can damage the range and produce carbon monoxide.
•Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
Install a carbon monoxide detector at eye level on every floor of the structure where it can easily be seen and heard. Change the batteries every six months and follow manufacturer’s recommendations on when to replace the detector.
•Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms mimic the flu, i.e. headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, leave the building and seek medical attention immediately.
For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association website, www.nfpa.org.
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