Though it has not been a rough winter, to this point, each of us must be prepared for whatever will come during the remainder of the cold months. It might be a bitter cold snap that taxes our heating systems or an ice storm that takes out our power for a week or two. Now is a good time to ensure that your primary and secondary heating systems are working the way that they should. Normally, the secondary heating system is not used unless the primary system fails, but what if the secondary system does not work, what then? While we are talking about supplemental heating systems, is the back-up system which you have meant to be used as a heating system? I have known people that have used their oven as a means of heat. Cooking appliances should not be used as a source to heat your home.
I saw a neighbor having their chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep the other day. I do not know how much you have used your fireplace or woodstove this year, but when was the last time that you had your chimney cleaned and inspected? Numerous chimney fires occur each winter. Most chimney fires are contained to the chimney, but some chimneys have a cracked flue, which allows the fire to get outside of the chimney. Chimney problems do not always show themselves right away. The problem could be under your fireplace, or in a part of the chimney that you cannot get to. Get it checked.
If your supplemental heating source is fueled by kerosene, then you must make certain that you fuel it with kerosene only. Some people have mistakenly put gasoline in a kerosene-fueled heater. Kerosene heaters also require adequate ventilation. A carbon monoxide detector is a recommended detection device. Remember, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is deadly. CO has a cumulative and an acute effect.
I also mentioned being prepared for losing your power, due to a snowstorm or an ice storm. Winter has got to be the worst time to lose our power. How will you heat your home or cook your food when the lights go out? Many of you may have an emergency generator. When is the last time that you ran it? Again, in the midst of the storm is not the time that you want to find out that your generator will not start. Keep in mind, when the power goes out, it may mean that gas stations will be unable to pump gasoline. Generators are also capable of producing high concentrations of carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is important to not place running generators in basements or enclosed buildings. One other thing to be mindful of is the danger of refueling a hot generator.
I am looking forward to spring as much as you are, but we need a good snow to kill this flu virus. Speaking of the flu, remember that frequent hand washing is a good means of preventing the spread of a virus. Winter is here, and the toughest couple of months lie ahead. Be ready, and look out for your elderly neighbors.