Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said homeowners who plan to use a fireplace or wood stove to augment heating during cold snaps or for emergency heating should have the chimney or flue inspected each year, or before use.
"Ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector, or find one in the yellow pages of your telephone directory under 'chimney cleaning," the CDC said in a statement. "Also, if you'll be using a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Test them monthly, and replace batteries twice yearly."
The ability to feel a change in temperature decreases with age, and older people are more susceptible to health problems caused by cold.
"If you are age 65 and older, place an easy-to-read thermometer in an indoor location where you will see it frequently, and check the temperature of your home often during the winter months," the CDC said.