Houston's Cold Front Could Bring Hot Problems

Cold and even icy weather are in the forecast for the Houston area this week — which means more people will be firing up their furnaces. When the temperatures drop, fire safety experts say it's important to be prepared.

This week, nearly everyone will be cranking up the furnace, turning on the space heater, loading logs onto the fireplace or piling on the electric blankets. And all of those things include fire hazards.

Lorraine Carli is with the National Fire Protection Association. She says it really does make a difference to inspect all your heating devices every year.

"What we see in terms of heating fires is we see a lot of fires associated with the fact that chimneys aren't cleaned properly. And you have those chimney fires that are associated with creosote, which is the build-up of that oily substance on the side of your chimneys, so that's why it's important to clean chimneys. And then we also see a lot of fires associated with space heaters and a lot of heating fire deaths associated with space heaters."

In fact, space heaters account for one third of heating fires, but two thirds of heating fire deaths.

Of all the forms of home heating, central furnaces are probably the most safe. But Carli says it's just as important to inspect your furnace to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"They're able to check to make sure that your furnace is working properly, that it's well ventilated, that it's in good working order so that will minimize the risk of having a carbon monoxide issue."

Carli says you should install carbon monoxide detectors outside of all bedrooms and on every level of your house and
check them monthly. She also adds that you should never warm up your vehicle inside a closed garage where CO fumes can build up. For more cold weather safety tips, visit National Fire Protection Association.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...