Senator JoycePARK FOREST – With temperatures dropping and more people staying indoors, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) joins the Office of the State Fire Marshal in reminding residents to have their furnaces checked, change furnace filters and make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are functioning properly.

“With many people working remotely due to COVID-19, thermostats are turned up all hours of the day,” Joyce said. “I encourage homeowners to make sure they are heating their homes safely to keep their families and loved ones safe this winter.”

From 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 52,050 fires each year involving heating equipment, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires during that time. Half of heating-related fires are reported during December, January and February.

It’s not just fires that pose a danger during these cold months. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is only detectable by special detectors and alarms. These alarms, just like smoke alarms, need to be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. If you are experiencing these symptoms, if you smell natural gas leaking in your home, or if your carbon monoxide alarm activates, evacuate the home immediately and open windows on the way out, if possible.

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends homeowners keep these tips in mind when it comes to winter heating safety:

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Change furnace filters frequently.
  • Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages or obstructions.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month and be familiar with the sounds they make.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on each floor of your home and within 15 feet of each sleeping area.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on replacement of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

For more tips and information on winter heating safety, visit the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal website here.