Heating advice to help you stay safe and snug, and save money

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Staying warm and safe can be a breeze when the cold wind blows.

Fuel to heat our homes can mean high bills. And heating increases the risks of fire, explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning. But a heating system that works efficiently can mean more warmth, more safety and more money left for other things.

The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Commission, Evansville Fire Department, Vanderburgh County township fire departments, American Red Cross, CenterPoint Energy and your local heating and air conditioning contractors want to alert the citizens of Evansville and Southwestern Indiana to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and explosion from a malfunctioning furnace, a blocked flue or chimney, a broken gas line or inadequate air for combustion.

There may be hidden damage to your furnace, gas piping, flue or chimney. All citizens should have their furnaces, space heaters, ranges, water heaters, gas lines, chimneys, flues and other heating equipment checked by a licensed heating contractor without delay. You should do this every year. You will protect yourself and your family this winter and save on heating bills.

Carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the air we breathe when fuel-burning equipment is operating and the vent or chimney is obstructed or there is not enough air to let the equipment burn fuel efficiently. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless and catches its victims unaware, sometimes as they sleep. If you suspect a carbon monoxide problem, leave your home and call 911 or your local fire department.

Families have been killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, and many others have become seriously ill. Symptoms may be similar to the flu, including headache, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath, as well as chest pain, fatigue and confusion. You may go to sleep and never wake up.

Always use portable generators outdoors, at least 20 feet from the house, and direct the engine exhaust away from windows and doors. Don’t use a range or oven for heat. 

Be careful using candles during power outages and at other times. Make a family fire escape plan.

The American Red Cross reminds you to use supplemental heating sources according to directions. Don’t use extension cords or power strips with space heaters.

Help alert your family with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Consider installing gas leak alarms. Regularly test the alarms and change any batteries, and replace the alarms as directed. Your local fire department may be able to check your alarms and replace them free.

If you need assistance

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  • Evansville Urban Enterprise Association offers free carbon-monoxide alarms and smoke alarms, while supplies last, to residents of the Enterprise Zone and the service areas outside the zone who have not received them in the past. Call 812-426-2490.
  • American Red Cross will provide in-home disaster and home-fire-safety education, test your smoke alarms and replace up to three if needed, and supply specialty alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing. Call 888-684-1441.
  • Community Action Program of Evansville handles the Indiana Weatherization Assistance Program in Vanderburgh, Posey and Gibson counties. CAPE may repair or replace faulty heating equipment and make other energy-efficient improvements. CAPE also helps with heating bills. CAPE has income limits. Call 812-425-4241.
  • Memorial Community Development Corp. offers emergency home repairs. The program covers repairs urgently needed to protect the residents. Homes must be owner-occupied, and there are income limits. Call 812-424-8627 or email [email protected].
  • Community One assists homeowners with major home repairs, including furnace repair or replacement, roof repair or replacement and ramp construction. Homeowners must live in the home and are expected to help pay for the project as able. Call 812-213-4202 or email [email protected].
  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee may provide loans to qualified homeowners for needed housing improvements. The program may repair or replace heating units and make other winter-related improvements. The owner must occupy the home and meet income and other qualifications. Call the Department of Metropolitan Development at 812-436-7823.
  • CenterPoint Energy has details on energy-saving products, income-qualified weatherization and energy assessments, and rebates for purchases of qualifying furnaces, programmable thermostats and insulation. Call 866-240-8476 or visit centerpointenergy.com/saveenergy.

Faith-based organizations, social agencies and township trustees may help with heating bills and needs. Call 211 to find resources.