Mourad: Be safe with home heating this winter

Chief: Check smoke alarm batteries with time change

Cooler temperatures mean it’s time to light up the old furnace. But Minden Fire Chief Kip Mourad, there are a few simple safety precautions to follow first.

“The first and foremost thing that people need to do before lighting up that old floor furnace or fireplace, is to have them checked out by a professional,” Mourad said. “Birds can build nests in chimneys or in furnace vents, which can cause carbon monoxide to build up.”

Mourad said it is very important to have the systems cleaned, adjusted and inspected every year.

He said carbon monoxide detectors can be beneficial by alerting homeowners to problems with high levels of the gas.

“These detectors are OK,” Mourad said. “But in my opinion, there has been no better invention than the smoke detectors for saving lives.”

Mourad suggests placing a smoke detector over each bedroom door and one near the kitchen area. However, he warns that they are not much use if the batteries are not changed regularly.

“I know some people who have taken the batteries out because the detector kept making noise,” Mourad said. “But what they don’t realize is if they go off they are supposed to go off. And if they take out the batteries, then they will not work at all.”

Mourad suggests keeping fuel-burning space heaters and wood stoves at least three feet away from anything that could burn.

“People put those old open-faced space heaters too close to a wall, the wall paper or wall gets too hot, and that is a fire waiting to happen,” he said. “There are so many needless deaths each year because of those old space heaters.”

Mourad also warns against using floor furnaces as clothes dryers.

“People sometimes put things on drying racks and place them on top of the floor furnace,” he said. “When the item gets dry, it sometimes slips off of the drying rack and lands on the furnace and eventually catches on fire.”

LSU Agriculture Center reported other ways to prevent fires in the home:

Turn unvented space heaters (those without exhaust pipes to the outdoors) off before going to bed.

Never leave children alone near a working fireplace, wood stove or space heater.

Replacing very old portable space heaters may be a good idea. Newer heaters, manufactured in 1990 or later, have been found to be much safer in independent tests.

Use a metal fire screen on the fireplace. Make sure the damper is open before starting a fire and keep it open as long as embers are still smoldering.

Clean the chimney each year if creosote has built up. Use only dry seasoned hardwood in a fireplace or wood stove.

Store flammable liquids, insecticides and paint in their original, labeled containers with tight fitting lids away from appliances, pilot lights and other sources of heat or flame. Never smoke near flammable liquids. Store gasoline outside the home or in a detached garage. Never store a propane cylinder indoors.

Mourad said residents should remember to change their batteries in the smoke detectors this weekend when the clocks are turned back an hour.



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