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Wildcat Extension District

This Winter, Use Firewise Thinking

fireAlthough many Kansans have enjoyed warmer-than-usual weather in recent fall months, cold winter temperatures have begun to take hold in many parts of the state. With this in mind, it’s time to consider home fire safety for the winter.

Winter is often the most dangerous time of the year for house fires. By December, every furnace in the country may be working at capacity, the fuel bill is probably causing sticker shock and every alternative-heating source at our disposal is likely being used.

Home and shop heating system maintenance should be done prior to winter, but it’s never too late to start that maintenance. Most fires are the result of lack of maintenance. Because the furnace worked last winter is not assurance that it will be functional for another year without maintenance. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true in this situation.

If you burn wood, corn, or other fuel in your fireplace or freestanding stove, clean the flue at least annually and more frequently if you burn a fuel that creates a buildup of byproducts in the flue. Chimney fires are preventable, and proper maintenance and monitoring will go a long way toward that prevention.

It’s also important to remember carbon monoxide this time of year. Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” for good reason. One symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning is waking up in the morning with a headache.

Every year, faulty heaters cause unnecessary deaths. Frequently, when an ice storm occurs in Kansas and the electricity goes out, portable generators are moved into garages and plugged into a furnace. Often, people run gas space heaters in closed rooms. These scenarios are extremely dangerous and should never be practiced.

People can also suffer carbon monoxide poisoning from running cars inside of an enclosed garage. If you want to warm up the car before getting in, park it in the driveway and not the closed garage. Even with the door open, carbon monoxide can build to a toxic level.

Kylie Ludwig
Wildcat District Extension Agent 
Labette County office

Source: Jennifer G. Williams, http://online.ksre.ksu.edu

For additional information, contact the Wildcat Extension District, Crawford County, 620-724-8233, Labette County, 620-784-5337, Montgomery County, 620-331-2690, Pittsburg Office, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP), 620-232-1930.


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