Winter Weather Tips from Local Heating Specialist

As the winter weather brings freezing temperatures, residents need to understand how to protect themselves from dangerously cold temperatures and know what the warning signs are for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide claims more than 400 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"A winter storm like we’re experiencing can trigger a power outage, causing many people to use alternate heating sources that may not be safe to keep them warm," said Doyle James, president of Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. "Unfortunately, some families use generators indoors to create the electricity they need, while others use gas ovens, stoves and unvented gas logs to provide heat. Many items that produce heat are not meant to warm up a large space or may not be ventilated properly. In addition to these heating sources, a furnace can become stressed from constant use in frigid temperatures, causing the heat exchanger to crack. Carbon monoxide can then leak into the home."

Warning signs that carbon monoxide may be accumulating in your home include gas flames burning orange or yellow instead of blue, sooty stains on heating appliances or around heating registers, and a poorly igniting furnace. Residents need to also look for physical symptoms of headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

"It’s important for residents to install a carbon monoxide detector to help identify a serious situation such as faulty or improperly used appliances, which can lead to fatal carbon monoxide levels," said James. "It is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic gas, so it can accumulate in your house without you ever knowing."

Aire Serv provides tips below for keeping safe and warm, but contact your local heating contractor for further information.

1. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working. If you develop symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia, seek medical attention immediately.

2. Protect your health and home by never heating your house with a gas oven or range. It’s also important to avoid warming your car up or keep in running inside the garage, even with the garage door open.

3. Keep generators in a well ventilated area away from the house and space heaters should be several feet away from combustible items.

4. Open your south-facing window blinds and curtains to let the sun in during the day and reduce the load on your heating system. Then close them at night to reduce the winter chill.

5. Reverse ceiling fans. By switching the blades to the clockwise direction, warmer air that’s accumulated near the ceiling will be pushed back down.

6. Do not leave pets outside. If you don’t want them in your home, at least leave them in a garage. Make sure they are kept warm and have fresh water that is not frozen. Remember that pets inside are also attracted to the warm fireplace and heater, so make sure they can’t burn themselves or knock a heat source over – putting everyone in harm’s way.

7. Bundle up. Put on extra layers indoors to save energy and wear them outdoors to conserve body heat.

8. Don’t burn foil, garbage, glossy magazines, painted wood or plastics. They release a toxic cloud of chemicals.

9. Have a trained heating technician inspect your heating system annually, including chimney and vents.

If you decide to venture outside, try to limit the amount of time you spend outdoors, and call your heating specialist to conduct a safety check on your heating system if you have any doubts about whether your equipment is working properly.