Home heating hazards and safety

As the temperatures continue to drop, more people will turn to heaters to keep warm but this could lead to safety hazard if used incorrectly.

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths and led to 480 lives lost in a recent five-year period.

So yes, it is critical you take the proper measures to keep you and your family safe.

Don Derolf of Custom Aire in Bensalem says a home's furnace is usually the most forgotten item in a consumer's house.

"A lot of homeowners have it in a basement or a closet so it's not something you think about until you go to turn it on and it doesn't work," said Derolf.

Make sure to get your heating system inspected every year. It will not only keep you safe, it will also help lengthen its life, increase its efficiency and keep your warranty valid.

"Keeping your efficiency on your furnace definitely coincides with cleaning it and making sure that all of it everything is working properly," said Derolf. "Making sure your gas pressures are correct, that's very important in keeping your efficiency rating up."

Derolf also says you should check the air filter regularly.

"Filters are definitely important," he said. "If you don't change your filter at least once or twice a month, all that dirt and buildup actually slows your fan down."

A slow fan makes your furnace work harder.

Also, get your heater checked if it's making unusual noises, or if you feel cold air blowing from it or smell gas.

Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors.

"It is very important to have an alarm on every floor of your home," said Derolf. "Especially the one that the heater is on."

Be especially careful with space heaters. They account for 85 percent of fire deaths caused by home heating equipment.

Also, keep the area around any heating equipment clear.

More than half of home heating fire deaths are caused by heaters being too close to things that can burn. That includes upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.

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