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Owen EMS director urges public to get ready for winter

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By The Staff

New home heating patterns may increase potential for chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning

With record-setting home-heating prices anticipated this autumn and winter, efficiency is at the forefront this year. Many homeowners address their financial concerns by turning to solid fuel appliances, like wood or pellet stoves.

Rick Morgan, Owen County EMS director, reminds the public that these heating patterns increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires.

According to the most recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, chimneys and chimney connectors accounted for the largest share – 36 percent – of home heating fire incidents in 2005, with “failure to clean” accounting for two-thirds of those fires.

Responsible operation of heating appliances calls for annual maintenance. Surprisingly, few homeowners realize that the chimneys venting their furnaces, water heaters and stoves, as well as the fireplace in the living room, need to be inspected by a qualified professional each year.

The most recent estimates available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show an average of 25,700 residential structural fires related to fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors, resulting in 30 deaths and $627 million in losses annually.

In addition to encouraging that chimneys and vents be inspected and maintained on an annual basis, the CSIA also recommends these winter-heating safety tips:

• Ensure that new appliances are installed with the correct venting components as defined by the manufacturer.

• Install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home.

• Check smoke alarms. Replace batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when clocks are reset for Daylight Savings Time.

For further information on chimney and venting safety, chimney inspections and to locate a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, homeowners are encouraged to visit  www.CSIA.org or call (800) 536-0118.