Keep the Home Fires Burning
I don't know what the official temperature was here this morning, but let's just say it was quite chilly. Sweater weather - at least in the mornings. As we prepare for another few months of colder and colder temperatures, many people will also be firing up their wood burning stoves or fireplaces. However, fireplaces can be hazardous to one's health if you suffer from COPD, asthma or any other lung disease. Here's some tips from the American Lung Association if you decide that heating with wood is best for you:
*If your wood burning stove was manufactured before 1995, it should be replaced by one certified by the EPA, or better yet, one certified for use in the state of Washington, where standards are stricter.
*The association recommends burning natural gas or propane, or converting wood burners to this. However, with the cost of heating oil, many people are seeking a more economical way to heat their homes. Both propane and natural gas must have outside ventilation.
*If you will be burning wood, make sure the wood is untreated by chemicals and has been cut at least 6 months prior to burning. This helps it burn more efficiently and cleaner.
* Make sure your chimney pipe or chimney is in good working order and has been inspected and cleaned by a professional before the season begins. It is easy to have a fire in the chimney and not realize it. However, internal, unseen damage from a fire can make your home vulnerable to catching fire and burning down. (We had an unknown chimney fire at our home in K.C. Luckily, the house never burned).
*The American Lung Association also cautions against burning other materials such as colored paper, plastics, rubber and trash. These items generate more harmful chemicals, increased pollution and produce less heat than untreated wood or manufactured fireplace logs.
*Pay attention to local burn bans. No one wants to burn their mountains or neighborhoods down.
*Be mindful of the weather. When air is cold and still, temperature inversions trap wood smoke and other pollutants close to the ground. Wood-burning should be avoided on hazy, windless days and nights.
*And if you use a furnace, now is the time to make sure it is serviced and clean with the filters changed.