Cold Weather 101: Staying Safe and Warm This Winter

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Marianna- It was as if summer became winter over night Sunday.
Many people in the panhandle were turning off the AC and cranking up the heat Monday morning for the first time this year.

"Your central heating and air, when you turn in on, a lot of times over the summer you'll get some dust that's collected on that heating coil and it will smell like it's burning- that's normal. But, you do want to be aware and make sure that's all that it is" advised Marianna Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief, Scott Birge.

Many homes in the area use gas powered heating units, which Birge said posed their own sets of problems.

"If you have propane or gas heaters, it's a good time to have that serviced. Especially with your space heaters. We like to have a three foot clearance around them, wherever you're putting it in your home. It's also a good time to check those CO monitors for carbon monoxide. We highly recommend that you have one of those in your home" he said.

Another safety tip Birge told us to be mindful of was firewood. He said it was important to make sure the logs were very dry. Damp wood can release a chemical called creosote, one of the leading causes of chimney fires.

"Have your fireplace serviced, just like your mechanical equipment, to make sure your chimney's cleaned out and you don't have that build up of soot" he warned.

But Birge also informed us that home heating wasn't the only potential fire hazard during the winter.

"As we come into the holidays we have more lights and things to plug in, but we don't have more outlets. So, we overload the outlets." He said over-loaded outlets were another leading cause of winter time house fires.

Lastly, Birge advised anyone who planned to use an electric blanket this year to make sure it was fairly new, in good condition and did not have any frayed wires.

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