Albany -- The first hint of cool weather in the mornings has many South Georgians getting ready for winter. Firefighters remind you to have your heaters serviced, before firing up those pilot lights.
James Clark of Walker Brothers Heating lights the pilot for the heater of an Albany home. Clark makes sure it is safe. "Gas heat really needs to be looked at."
When heaters are lighted, many times they make strange smells burning dust off the coils. Without a good cleaning and inspection, you may not know if your heater is malfunctioning until it is too late. "Heat exchangers being cracked. You need to be pretty particular with gas heat."
Most South Georgia heaters have been off for about seven months, so firefighters agree that a good cleaning will keep gas units problem free. Chief James Carswell of the Albany Fire Department said, "In this area they are the number one cause of fires. Unfortunately in some of those fires there are deaths."
Gas heating units can also create carbon monoxide dangers if the heater is not burning correctly. "If they are in the house. If they are under the house, which some of them are, they need to be looked at," Clark said.
Insurance statistics say faulty gas heaters cause more than 1,800 fires and 400 deaths a year in the United States.