With cooler weather, folks at home will be looking to heaters, furnaces, fire places and stoves to provide some warmth. But before cranking up the heat, officials suggest taking some precautions first - have the heating source checked. "Most of the time, what we see is fires in the flue," said Possum Kingdom East Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ronnie Ranft. "Fireplaces need to be inspected for cracks, bird nests, creosote build up and obstructions." For electrical furnaces, the first use of the season can set off alarms because of dust accumulations on heating coils and in ducts that can cause not only a strange odor, but also smoke alarm activation. "Also carbon monoxide and smoke detectors," Ranft continued. "It's recommended batteries be changed when the time changes." This year, standard time returns Sunday, Nov. 3. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill. If it fills a house at night, sleeping occupants can die. "It's symptoms are akin to a whole house full of flu-like symptoms," said Debra Smith, a paramedic with PK East EMS. "The very old and the very young get affected the quickest." With the holidays approaching, additional fire hazards include candles. "Halloween has candles, Thanksgiving has candles, Christmas has candles and Christmas has trees," Smith said. "It only takes a light breeze or breath of air to ignite curtains." Extension cords and space heaters are also a bad combination.


"Space heaters need to plug directly into a wall outlet," Ranft explained, adding that extension cords, particularly one meant for a small appliance, can overheat and catch fire. "If an extension cord is rolled up, it can create excess heat," he continued. "And it's not a good idea to put extension cords under carpets, mats or throw rugs."