Cold Weather Home Safety Tips By Bill Groner on February 16, 2015

home heating fire injuriesHeating your home or apartment in the cold winter months presents potentially serious safety concerns.  The misuse of home heating equipment (including furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, and even ovens) is one of the leading causes of home fires, and resulting injuries, property damage, and death.  The White Plains accident attorneys at Worby Groner Edelman have years of experience handling fire cases due to defective products.

Home Heating Safety

You should have your furnace inspected every year to ensure that it functions properly.  That inspection should include the vent, so that carbon monoxide does not build up in the house.  Make sure that you have functioning smoke detectors in every room, but especially in all bedrooms.  You should also have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor.  Remember: carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless; there’s a reason why it’s known as the “silent killer”.  You won’t notice a carbon monoxide build-up if you’re asleep.   Test these detectors monthly, and change the batteries every 6-12 months.  Many people test their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when clocks are turned ahead and back in the Spring and Fall.

If your furnace shuts down, the temperature inside your home will drop quickly in the cold.  Your water pipes could freeze, especially any pipes which run along exterior walls, causing flooding inside the walls, and the house.  If you lose heat, run the water at all sinks, showers, etc., even if at just a trickle, to prevent freezing pipes.  This can save you from potentially devastating property damage.

The build-up of soot, ash and creosote in your chimney can also be a fire hazard.  If you use your fireplace regularly, you should have it inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep once per year.  Make sure the flue is open before starting a fire.

Keep an area of 3 – 4 feet around all heating equipment clear of flammable or combustible materials, including paper and firewood.  Make sure you shut off and unplug electric space heaters when not in use.  Never leave space heaters on when you leave your home.  And remember to keep children away from heating equipment; they won’t know it’s hot until it’s too late.

Winter Power Loss

Never use fuel-fired space heaters inside the home, including inside the garage.  These heaters produce carbon monoxide, which needs to vent into open air.  Even if the garage door is open, the CO can seep into your home through doors and the walls.  And while we’re on the subject, warming up your car on a cold morning is a good idea for a lot of reasons; just make sure that the car is outside before you do so.

Never use a gas oven to heat your home or apartment if you lose heat.  Ovens are designed to run for long periods of time with the door closed.  If the door is open, the pilot light can be extinguished, causing gas to build up in your home.

General Safety and Advice

Keep several fire extinguishers around your home, and make sure everyone in your home knows where they are kept, and how to use them.  Keep your equipment in good working order, and don’t use any product in a manner for which it is not intended.  Just follow a few common sense safety rules.

Sometimes, you can follow all of the rules and still suffer an injury from a defective heating system or similar type product.  There might be negligence on the part of a contractor, or your own landlord.  If you’ve been injured in this type of accident, or in any type of accident, contact the White Plains accident attorneys at Worby Groner Edelman LLP.  We’ll evaluate your case efficiently and the consultation is free.  If litigation is necessary, we’ll process your case quickly, and prepare the case for settlement, and, if necessary, for trial.  There’s never a fee unless we’re successful.

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