Staying Safe While Warming Up to Falling Temperatures

November 6, 2007 - Posted at 4:19 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- With falling temperatures, many folks are going to be turning on their furnaces and plugging in space heaters...but before you do that, there are a few precautions you should take.

"We took out a wood stove and are going to replace it with an electric heater for my mother so she can subsidize her gas...because gas is so expensive and she lives on a fixed income," said shopper Susan Jones.

Chilly temperatures have Jones taking home an electric heater Monday.  But before she heats her house...there are a few other things she'll need to put on her to-do list.

"I recommend before you start it up, make sure you have smoke detector in the house. You can also make sure your filters are all changed and even have an expert come out to your home and check your duct work and make sure there are no leaks or gas or carbon monoxide in the furnace itself," said Ken Philpot of Home Depot.

Odorless carbon monoxide kills hundreds of people in the U.S. every year, but a detector can potentially save your life.

"Carbon monoxide is odorless, you can't smell it so it could be dangerous if you breath carbon monoxide," said Philpot. Also going over an escape plan with your family can save valuable time if there is an emergency.

"We have this ladder here you can throw out a window if you are in a two story house you can throw it out the window and climb down the ladder and escape," said Philpot.

And while Jones and her family warm by their electric fire this winter, they'll sit a little more comfortably knowing how to do it safely.

"It's like you can see it and turn it off and on and use it with or without the's cute, I liked it. I hope she enjoys it," laughed Jones.

Space heaters were responsible for 25,000 fires last year and more than 300 deaths.

A few things to keep in mind...

  • Always keep space heaters at least 3 feet from curtains, papers, desks or other combustible items in the room.
  • Also, be sure not to overload electrical outlets and don't use extension cords when plugging in your space heater.
  • You'll also want to check the electrical cord for overheating.
  • And never leave children alone with a space heater.