Increased risk for house fires during winter months

Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 5:11 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With people using various heating sources during the winter months, there’s a higher risk of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Obviously it’s colder this time of year so people’s furnaces are having to work a lot harder than they might in the fall and the spring,” says Eau Claire Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Allyn Bertrang.

Bertrang says when it starts to get colder outside things you use to heat your home, like furnaces, create an increased risk for house fires.

“We always recommend that people have their heating equipment, such as furnaces in their home, serviced by a qualified organization and technicians,” he says.

Greg Mericle with Hurlburt Heating and Plumbing says there are some signs to look out for if you think your furnace may be broken.

“If there is a burnt motor, typically you’re going to have that burnt plastic smell radiating through your home and that will be an indication to shut off the power to it and call somebody right away,” he says.

Mericle says most furnaces built within the last 30 years have safety features that will shut the furnace off if there is a problem.

Mericle and Bertrang say alternative heat sources, such as space heaters, then cause a bigger risk for a fire.

“That recovery from heat loss is more potential for bad situations than anything for sure,” Mericle says.

“Some of the problems that we have that lead to fires in the wintertime is either faulty equipment or people using alternative sources to try and heat their homes,” Bertrang says.

Another concern is one you can’t see.

“Some other issues we run into in the wintertime, not just fires, but also carbon monoxide poisoning,” Bertrang says. “We always recommend that people when they’re doing snow removal, also make sure their exhaust pipes if they come out the side of the house are clear of snow.”

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