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SOME HOT ADVICE

Professional inspection of all your fuel-burning appliances -- including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers and space heaters -- not only can save you money but could save your life, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Consumers should not service their own appliances but have a qualified plumber, heating contractor or gas company technician perform an inspection every year," said Ann Brown, chairwoman of the safety commission.

She said the inspections should be done once a year and preferably before the weather starts turning cold. They should include not just appliances, furnaces and water heaters but also chimneys, flues and vents "for leakage and blockages by creosote or debris."

As an added measure of protection, she also urged the use of carbon monoxide detectors. More than 200 people each year die from CO poisoning associated with fuel-burning appliances.

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