As temperatures go down, the chance for injury from heaters goes up
The challenge of keeping warm might lead to the use of unsafe heating sourcesDecember 9, 2020
It’s wintertime, and things are heating up.
As temperatures drop, more people turn up the heat to stay warm.
Injury Prevention experts at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt want to raise awareness on the importance of safely heating your home.
“Many people are working remotely. Most children are participating in virtual learning. With pandemic restrictions in place, there are more people in the home during a time when it would traditionally be empty. Folks are needing to stay warm.”
Many heating sources for homes and businesses have the potential to create fire and electrical hazards, said Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program manager at Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
“COVID-19 has created a different home environment for everyone,” Unni said. “Many people are working remotely. Most children are participating in virtual learning. With pandemic restrictions in place, there are more people in the home during a time when it would traditionally be empty.
“Folks are needing to stay warm. And for some who are not working, they are trying to figure out how to stay warm on less income.”
Unni said the challenge of keeping warm might lead to the use of unsafe heating sources. This, she said, can create fire and electrical hazards. And while most are focused on Covid-19 and the flu, there is another potentially deadly factor to also consider — carbon monoxide, known as the silent killer.
“During this time, it is so important that people know what heating sources are the safest and which ones to steer clear from to prevent a potentially hazardous situation,” she stressed.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 170 people die every year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning from non-automobile consumer products. These include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal burned in homes and other enclosed areas.
Quick tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Install a CO alarm inside your home near all sleeping areas. Test it monthly.
- Place the CO alarm at least 15 feet away from any fuel-burning appliances.
- Have gas, oil or coal-burning appliances, chimneys and fireplaces checked by a professional every year.
- Do not use a kitchen stove or oven to heat your home.
- Never use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or basement
- Do not leave your car or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even with the garage door open.
Safety tips for heating and electrical equipment:
- Cover radiators and baseboard heaters with childproof screens.
- Secure gas fireplaces with a valve cover or key.
- Fit working fireplaces with screens.
- Clean chimneys at least once a year.
- Keep electric space heaters, humidifiers and vaporizers at least three feet from beds, curtains and other flammable items.
- Cover unused electrical outlets with safety plugs.
- Use grounded (three-pronged) cords with all major electrical appliances. Ensure that electrical cords are properly insulated, and that insulation shows no signs of wear or fraying.
- Use cord holders to keep longer cords fastened against the wall.
- Remove excess plugs from overloaded sockets.
- Do not run electrical wires under carpeting.
- Position TVs, computers and stereo equipment against walls.
photo by iStock