The advent of cold temperatures also means an increased risk at home as people start firing up their furnaces for the first time.
According to the City of Columbia’s 911 dispatch records, 142 residential house fires and 187 carbon monoxide alarm calls were reported in the last year. Fire calls peaked in December 2018, when firefighters were called to 16 house fires. Firefighters were called to more than a dozen house fires each month between October 2018 and April 2019 except for February, when 10 fires were reported.
Columbia Fire Department Assistant Chief Brad Frazier said, “This time of the year, the weather is starting to cool off, we’re starting to turn our furnaces on for the first time in maybe 6 to 8 months, this is the perfect time to have your gas powered appliances in particular your furnace checked to make sure that it’s venting properly and working properly so you don’t have a build up of carbon monoxide.”
Turning up that heater shouldn’t be risky – that’s why city officials are saying to make sure to check on the maintenance of your gas powered furnace and your carbon monoxide detectors.
“The challenge with carbon monoxide – its colorless, odorless, tasteless you don’t know that its in the air,” Assistant Chief Frazier said.
Officials say you’re most susceptible to furnace issues like carbon monoxide leaks when you are sleeping and they can be life threatening and lead to other issues. They say to make sure you are checking up on your appliances annually.
The city tries to prevent some of those fires and carbon monoxide problems in rental units through its inspection program.
Leigh Kottwitz , neighborhood services manager for the City of Columbia said, all rental properties with gas-burning appliances are inspected every three years.
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