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Jan 6, 2012
Dr. Norfleet Suggests Tips for Heating Your Home Safely this Winter
The Oswego County Health Department reminds people that safety should be the number one priority when deciding on any type of alternative heating source during the winter months.
Some popular alternative sources of home heating are fireplaces, space heaters, wood-burning stoves, and kerosene heaters.
"While chances of freezing to death in your home are small, there's a greater risk of death by fire or carbon monoxide poisoning," noted Dennis Norfleet, MD, Public Health Director for Oswego County. Fortunately, most tragedies are preventable by following a few safety steps.
- Children should not have access to portable heaters, whether electric or fuel-powered.
- All heaters that run on fuel (wood, natural gas, kerosene, butane, oil) should be vented. The only exception to this rule is electric heaters or professionally installed ventless gas appliances.
- Do not use the kitchen oven or stove top to heat your home. This can be a fire hazard as well as a source of toxic fumes.
- "Space" heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
- If you are using supplemental portable electric heaters, never use an extension cord. Plug them directly into the electrical outlet.
- Before purchasing a portable heater, make sure it has "tip switches." These switches are designed to automatically shut off the heating unit in the event it tips over.
- Never refuel a space heater while it is in operation or is still hot.
- ONLY refuel portable heaters outdoors! Use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer, and follow instructions carefully.
- Glass doors or a metal screen should be placed in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks or hot ash from igniting carpets, furniture, or other combustible items.
- Do not burn barbeque charcoal indoors -- not even in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. It releases odorless, but toxic, carbon monoxide fumes and can cause death!
- Install both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors that are equipped with a battery back up in your home. Make sure that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are on every level of the home and that smoke alarms are also in every bedroom in the home. Test the alarms monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year
For additional winter safety tips contact the Oswego County the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547.
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