What To Do Before You Turn On The Heat - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

What To Do Before You Turn On The Heat

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The falling temperatures might have you reaching for the thermostat.

As people turn on their space heaters and furnaces for the first time this year, experts say this is usually when they see more fires and more potential danger for carbon monoxide poisoning, so it might not be such a bad idea to start preparing your home for winter.

"I think it's a safety issue for your family and pets," Rex Ellis of Advanced Mechanical says.

Before you switch on the heat this year, there's a few things you should check first, starting with the furnace.

"People just turn on their furnaces and just take it for granted it's going to work like it did last year, that's not always the case," Ellis says.

Ellis and his team check about 20 furnaces a month from top to bottom, looking for cracks and any potential gas leaks.

"Each year there's fatigue on the furnace from the heat and the cold, the metal gets fatigued," he says, "It's like taking a piece of metal, bending it back and forth it just keeps getting weaker and weaker and weaker, and finally it cracks."

The cracks can let carbon monoxide or other gases into the house.

"It's very important because you've got carbon monoxide which is deadly killer, you can't smell it, see it or hear it," Ellis says.

He recommends getting the furnace checked around this time of year before running the heat to full capacity.

And if cold weather for you means turning to candles and space heaters, keep this in mind:

"The number one disaster is a single home fire," Brooke Mehaffey of the American Red Cross says, "Lots of times it is things that happen in the home that you can prevent."

The American Red Cross assisted 242 families last year, most because of a fire and typically in the winter.

"People are lighting candles more, people are using space heaters more, lighting fires in their fireplaces, doing things that can cause fires," Mehaffey says.

The Red Cross recommends keeping flammables at least three feet away from those heat sources, never leave them unattended, and always remember to turn them off.

"People get cold, they want to stay warm, you'll put your space heater on before you go to bed, then leave it on and not think about turning it off, or unplugging it before you go to bed," Mehaffey says.

And of course make sure you have working smoke detectors to keep warm and safe during the winter months.

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