As temperatures drop, Lincoln experts share how to prevent furnace fires

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – While there has been some cold weather recently, you don’t want your efforts to keep warm to cause a fire.

Several fires have sparked in the past few days, and that’s no coincidence.

Lincoln Fire & Rescue says several blazes have been the result of turning on the heat without properly preparing first.

Capt. Nancy Crist, an LFR spokeswoman, said many fires during the fall and winter months are caused by furnaces and heating systems being used for the first time in months without being cleaned first.

“Have someone come in, a professional come in, from outside and inspect your furnace,” she said. “Change that filter, and just ensure that it’s running properly, that there’s no leaks in any of the ventilation systems within the furnace.”

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Bob Benak of Benak’s Heating & Cooling says carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the most dangerous threats from an improperly maintained furnace, and you should be getting it checked at least every fall.

“Maintenance is very important, can’t stress it enough,” Benak said. “You can save yourself 30% on your utility bills just by having it maintained.”

LFR also said to check your space heaters and other external heating sources before using them and to keep any flammable or combustible materials at least 3 feet away from sources of heat.

“If you use a fireplace, ensure that you have a screen that extends out around the fireplace so that children and animals are safe,” Crist said. “And also, it prevents sparks from flying out of the fireplace and igniting combustibles around the fireplace.”

SEE ALSO: Fire causes $75,000 in damage at a Lincoln motel

Crist wants to remind the public to turn off space heaters and fireplaces and blow out their candles before going to bed or leaving the room.

With holidays coming up and lots of cooking being done, she also says to be aware of safety in the kitchen. Never use ovens or stoves to heat your home.

LFR says electrical fires, usually caused by appliances, account for about 65,000 fires every year.

Experts say fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned once a year, smoke detector batteries changed twice a year, and furnace filters replaced every three months.

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