03042020HAO1612DOLTON - As winter weather continues to reach freezing temperatures, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) reminds homeowners to check their home heating and alarm devices to make sure they are still functioning properly. 

“A proper home inspection is critical in ensuring your home is equipped with the quality heating it needs to fight off the coldness of our winter season,” Harris said. “However, it is also important to check your furnace, furnace filter and smoke detectors to ensure your family is safe from potential fires.” 

The U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 52,050 home incidents from 2012-2016 involving heating equipment, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires during that time. 

Carbon monoxide also poses as a threat in winter months.  Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is only detectable by special detectors and alarms. These alarms, just like smoke alarms, need to be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly. 

Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. If you are experiencing these symptoms and smell natural gas leaking in your home, or if your carbon monoxide alarm activates, evacuate the home immediately and open windows on the way out, if possible. 

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends homeowners keep these tips in mind when it comes to winter heating safety:

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Change furnace filters frequently.
  • Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages or obstructions.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month and be familiar with the sounds they make.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on each floor of your home and within 15 feet of each sleeping area.
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on replacement of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

For more tips and information on winter heating safety, visit the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal website here.