JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There are several different times of the year when you need to take time and prepare your home for the weather ahead.
Winter may be the most important time to prepare. When the colder weather settles into the area, the heaters come on and the fireplaces are lit.
Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley said that prepping your home early in the season will save you from problems later on, and this time of year keeps the E-911 center busy when people don't prepare efficiently.
"Every year around this time we'll start receiving those calls, it'll be the first time to turn that furnace on, light that fire place, then they realize they've got a problem at 8 o'clock at night," Presley said. "The fire department is responding, you're getting out of your house, it's 30 degrees. So to be proactive in this is going to be beneficial to your family."
Joe Carter with Ace Heating & Cooling said that depending on the type of furnace you have, different things need to be checked.
"With gas heat of course everybody knows you're looking at a problem with carbon monoxide," Carter said. "So you're looking for anything that would lead you to see if there is a possible crack in the heat exchanger."
The best way to protect yourself around gas is to have a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is odorless, which may leave a detector as the only way to warn you in a dangerous situation.
Luckily, most of the newer furnaces have safety measures to keep you safe from other issues, but older ones may develop problems over time, especially if they have been worked on often said Carter.
If you do think there is a problem there are a few distinct signs that could warn you.
"If you see any kind of smoke at all, that's a big red flag that you've got something that's not right," Presley said. "If you do see smoke, leave the home and call 9-1-1."
If you smell something burning the first few days after turning the furnace on for the first time it doesn't always mean something is wrong, but you do need to remain cautious if the problem continues.
"A lot of times when you first turn them on you're going to get some odor just because they've been off all Summer, even with electric ones or heat strips, you'll get an odor, but if you notice something that continues after the first cycle or so I would definitely call to get it checked out," Carter said.