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Freezing Temperatures May Invade Las Vegas Overnight

Many Heaters And Furnaces May Be Used For First Time This Season

November 12, 2018 - 1:24 pm
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LAS VEGAS (KXNT) It feels like "desert cold" is colder than the temperature says it is. So with that in mind, get ready to bundle up, especially in the mornings and at night.

With nighttime temperatures expected to drop near freezing Monday night, and daytime temperatures also predicted to be cooler than normal, it is important to know some cold weather safety tips. A Freeze Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service in Las Vegas from 11:00 p.m. tonight until 8:00 a.m. Tuesday. Temperatures in the outlying areas and remote areas inside the city may reach or be close to freezing. Precautions for the first freeze should be taken.

Furnaces (whether natural gas/propane or electric) that have not been used for the last several months will have a buildup of dust and dirt on the heating elements. When the furnace is used for the first time, this dirt and dust will burn off, causing a burning odor, and it may even produce very light haze or white smoke. This is not harmful and is common. This is just the residue burning off the elements and it may take several minutes and maybe three or four uses before it all burns away. If the smoke is dark grey or black, and the furnace makes rumbling noises, you should leave the house immediately and call 9-1-1 from a safe location to notify the fire department. While the weather is still warm, open windows and doors during the day and run the furnace a few times to burn off the residue so it can escape outside without filling the inside of the home.

Some homes and apartments may have wall heater units and many times during warmer weather people will push furniture or other combustible items against the heaters. These items should be moved away this week. Many times the heaters will turn on while no one is home and can cause a serious fire. A small boy died this way in an apartment fire about ten years ago on the city’s east side.

Before using a fireplace or wood burning stove, check to see if combustibles are away from the fireplace. Make sure the flue is open. This is the trap door on top of the fireplace in the chimney pipe, which keeps the weather out and lets the smoke go up and out. Many times people forget to open the flue and the house fills with smoke. Before using the fireplace, use a flashlight, open the flue and look up the pipe. You should see daylight. If not, the flue might be obstructed by a bird’s nest or another obstacle. This will cause carbon monoxide to back up into the home, which is dangerous. Fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected at least once every two years, and if it is a wood-burning fireplace it should be cleaned yearly.

Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should be used for a limited time. Never use extension cords with electric space heaters and keep combustible items at least three feet from any heating device. Electric space heaters should always be unplugged when not in use.

Portable heating devices can cause serious burns also.  The newer “radiator” type portable heaters have become one of the more popular heaters because they can produce tremendous heat efficiently.  To do this air must flow through the unit which is extremely hot.  Make sure they are at least 36 inches from combustible items and people (especially children) do not touch them.

Barbecues should never be used as a heating device in a home. These units produce lethal amounts of carbon monoxide, a deadly gas. This act alone has caused many people in Las Vegas to be hospitalized during the holidays.

In extreme cases, some people use the oven on their stove for heating.  This is very inefficient and can be deadly.  They will not produce enough heat to fill the room and carbon monoxide gas may be released into the kitchen which may cause you to become ill or even fatal.

Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly by checking them once a month.  If you have a natural gas/propane heater, you should consider having a carbon monoxide alarm in your home as well.

Remember “People, Pets, Pipes and Plants” during a freeze. Take precautions and prevent injury or damage due to freezing temperatures.

For people, dress warmly if going outdoors, even for a short period of time. Make sure all surfaces of the skin are covered to contain warmth.

Precautions for pets should be taken, bringing them indoors if possible.

Protect pipes by using insulation or shut the water off and letting pipes drain. If a pipe freezes, never use fire to thaw the pipe – that can cause an explosion. Use a hair dryer to slowly heat the pipe, have the water shut off while doing that and have a bucket ready to catch water as it leaks out where the pipe has ruptured due to freezing.

Take precautions with plants by taking potted plants indoors if possible or by covering them to insulate against the freezing temperatures.