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Winter isn’t over yet: Tips to stay safe from carbon monoxide and other winter heating hazards

2/12/2018 9:51:35 AM

SAINT PAUL – Because winter is still far from over, the Minnesota Department of Commerce reminds Minnesotans of some basic tips to stay warm and safe through the end of the heating season.

“Safety should always come first when heating our homes,” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman. “We want all Minnesotans to be both safe and warm in the winter, so we encourage people to follow basic safety tips and also apply for energy assistance if they are having trouble paying their heating bills.”

Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working. These are essential parts of home safety and are required by code in every home. They can warn of a fire or a dangerous malfunction with a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove. Test monthly and replace batteries every year. 

Use space heaters safely. Any space heater that burns with an open flame (such as wood, natural gas, propane or kerosene) must be vented to the outside to prevent the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide and other gases. To avoid burns and fire hazards, keep children and flammable materials at least three feet away from all space heaters.

Keep snow and ice clear of furnace exhaust vents, air intake hoods and chimneys. This ensures safe, efficient heating and prevents potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

Inspect heating systems annually. Every year furnaces, water heaters and other devices fail because of improper maintenance, cleaning or adjustment. This costs money with emergency repairs and higher energy costs. Equipment operating improperly can also lead to dangerous conditions, including carbon monoxide leaks.

Apply for energy assistance if you are struggling to pay your heating bills. The Minnesota Energy Assistance Program, administered by the Commerce Department, is an essential safety net for vulnerable Minnesotans. Energy assistance helps pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors. It can also help some households repair or replace malfunctioning heating systems.

Energy assistance is available to Minnesota homeowners and renters who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median annual income ($48,077 for a family of four). Qualifying households apply through the local service provider in their area. To find your local service provider, call the Commerce Department toll-free at 800-657-3710 or /commerce/eap.jspvisit the Energy Assistance Program section of the Commerce website (mn.gov/commerce).

Media Contact
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
p: 651-539-1463 | c: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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