By Josh Lanier
Fire educators urge residents to use a common sense approach to heating their homes this holiday season.
An American Red Cross and National Fire Protection Association study found that 79 percent of people are concerned about heating costs and are looking for alternatives to cut costs.
Some of the more popular items used to heat homes are:
• Space heaters: Make sure the heater has emergency options like an automatic shut-off in the event it is turned over. Never leave your home or sleep with the space heater on. Always give space heaters three feet of space in all directions. Also, never fill a kerosene heater inside your home, take it outside and always have proper ventilation when it’s running since they give off carbon monoxide.
• Fireplace: Have your chimney and fireplace serviced and inspected before piling in the firewood.
• Extension cords: Heaters or tree lights may require an extension cords, but make sure they’re not overheating and unplug them at night or while you’re out. Never plug in more than three light strands to an extension cord.
• Stoves: Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Don’t leave a stove on unattended while cooking.
• Furnace: Get your furnace serviced to help eliminate any potential problems that may arise from or before heavy use.
Firefighters advise everyone to ensure smoke alarms are up to date and take common sense approaches to saving money on an energy bill.
Experts say to roll temperatures back four to six degrees at night or when you leave the house. And keep the thermostat at 68 degrees, which is considered to be the most energy efficient by the NFPA.
Also, keep furniture and drapes away from vents and keep vents and filters clean, the NFPA said.
Problems with heating and improper use of heating elements as well as cooking of big meals makes the winter one of the busiest for firefighters.
“Just be smart with what you’re doing,” said Concord fire educator Norman Franklin. “Never assume you know what you’re doing. Read the instructions and follow the guidelines, and you’ll prevent a lot of trouble.”
• Contact reporter Josh Lanier: 704-789-9144.