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Mon January 9, 2012

DUPAGE COUNTY-People rely on their furnaces and fireplaces to function properly year after year, often not remembering proper maintenance or cleaning. This is a dangerous practice resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths among Americans. The DuPage County Health Department recommends the following precautions to keep your family safe this winter:


  • Change or clean your furnace filter regularly.
  • Have a professional check your furnace to be sure it is in good repair. Some furnace services can check to see if the furnace gets enough fresh air. Many homes are over-insulated and lack intake-air piping. This causes the furnace to burn improperly and can reduce the oxygen in your home to a dangerously low level.
  • Move all materials that burn easily away from the furnace, including old rags, sawdust, wood scraps and flammable liquids such as gasoline and kerosene. (Because vapors from flammable liquids ignite easily, store these liquids in tightly capped containers.)
  • Have a professional inspect your chimney and flue at least once a year and clean them if necessary. Carbon monoxide levels can become dangerous if smoke cannot escape from blocked flues or chimneys. Also, soot in flues and chimneys is highly combustible and can easily ignite, sending a ball of fire from the furnace or fireplace into the house.


  • If you have a fireplace, be sure it was made to be used and is not just for decoration.
  • Only burn materials designed for a fireplace. Coal and charcoal release carbon monoxide, and some products emit deadly gases. If using artificial logs, burn just one at a time. They may produce more heat than the fireplace can withstand.
  • Always use a fireplace screen to prevent hot embers from popping out into the room.
  • Do not go to bed or leave the house until you are sure the fire is completely out. Securely shut the fireplace screen or doors.
  • Put ashes in a metal container and empty it after each time you clean the fireplace.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home. Test the alarms periodically and change the batteries at least once per year.

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