CenterPoint reminding families to check furnaces

December 12, 2012 8:32:00 PM PST
House fires can be a stark reminder of how quickly cold nights can turn deadly as people try to stay warm.

From hot plates to ovens, firefighters have seen it all. But they are not the only ones busy keeping people safe when it turns cold.

"It's checking the oxygen in the home," CenterPoint Energy technician Kevin Ford Sr. said.

CenterPoint Energy sends technicians like Ford to homes when the weather turns cold because that's when furnaces are first put to use and concerns about carbon monoxide poisoning hit a peak.

Ford says homeowners should know the symptoms because it can be deadly.

"If you get nauseated or feel dizzy or something like that after using your unit, your furnace, and you maybe have a little headache or something and you normally don't feel that way," Ford said.

CenterPoint officials say if that happens to you, call them immediately to have your home checked.

"Usually what happens it, people wait until that first cold snap and turn the unit on and without having it serviced," Ford said.

Firefighters say furnaces are only part of the problem.

"Went to a house fire first thing this morning," Houston Fire Department's Jay Evans said.

Evans says cold weather brings with it unconventional and often unsafe methods of heating a home.

"We are very concerned about how people heat their homes. For convenience, a lot of time people use the gas stove to heat their home," Evans said.

Firefighters are especially concerned with portable heaters, saying keep everything three feet away from them, that includes furniture, your clothes, and even the family pets.

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