EPFD warns of dangers when heating home


POSTED: Friday, November 22, 2013 - 8:41am

UPDATED: Friday, November 22, 2013 - 9:15am

As temperatures drop Friday, the risk for house fires increases tremendously. Heating is the second leading cause of house fires behind cooking fires and is most prevalent in the winter months when people use central heating systems, portable heaters and fireplaces.

The fire department said people should use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards. They said people should never leave a space heater on when they go to sleep or leave their home and keep furniture, drapes and carpeting at least three feet away from the heater.

It said homeowners should have a technician check furnaces and heaters every year.

"Please have the furnace serviced by a licensed heating-cooling technician because what they'll do, they're not just going to turn it on. They're going to check for natural gas leaks and they're also going to check for carbon monoxide leaks," said Michael Ortiz with The El Paso Fire Department.

Also, families should never use their stove or oven to heat their home.

"Anytime there's an open flame, there's going to be carbon monoxide and the carbon monoxide levels are going to get too high. People go to sleep and they don't wake up," said Ortiz. "If the whole household wakes up with a headache, nausea feeling weak, then more than likely everyone's been exposed to carbon monoxide. That is a true emergency."

If families think they’ve been exposed to high level of carbon monoxide, the fire department said to get everyone out of the house and call 911 as soon as possible.

It recommends families get a carbon monoxide detector, so it can warn if there's too much of the dangerous gas inside the home.

During the winter months, people should also check on neighbors or family members who are elderly to make sure they stay safe and warm and don't forget about pets.

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