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Stay safe heating your home: Record cold temperatures hit

by jmaloni

Press release

Mon, Jan 5th 2015 09:25 pm

Use generators and portable heaters safely

In extreme frigid weather like that arriving in Erie and Niagara counties today courtesy of a "polar vortex," residents may seek alternative methods to keep their homes warm and their houses supplied with power during outages caused by the storm. The Erie County Department of Health offers these important guidelines to stay safe during these dangerously cold temperatures.

"Everyone needs to be mindful of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning," Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. "Improper use of generators or portable space heaters can silently poison you and your family without your knowledge. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can literally kill you in minutes. It is invisible, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating, which is why taking proper precautions is vital and having sufficient working CO detectors in your home is critical.

"Every year, 500 people in the U.S. die from accidental CO poisoning. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms. Carbon monoxide can build up so quickly that victims are overcome before they can get help. Leave your home immediately if your CO detector sounds and call 911."

Follow these tips to stay safe:

•When using portable generators, never use them indoors and make sure they are at least 20 feet away from your dwelling.

•Never use your oven or range to heat your home.

•Never use a charcoal grill, camp stove or other charcoal-burning or gasoline-powered device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window.

•Never idle a car in the garage.

•Never sleep in rooms where unvented gasoline or kerosene heaters are present.

•When using a space heater, be mindful some types of kerosene and propane portable space heaters get hot enough to ignite nearby draperies, carpet, paper, clothing or furniture. Check them periodically to see if they feel hot. Use models that have an automatic shutoff device that turns the heater off if it tips over or becomes too hot.

•Check or change the batteries in your CO detectors every six months.

•If you do not have a battery-powered or battery-backup CO detector, make buying one a priority.

For more information:

•Erie County Department of Health - http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=winter-storms-extreme-cold

•Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/features/copoisoning/index.html

•New York State Department of Health - http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7217/index.htm http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7217.pdf

•"Prevent Poisoning from Carbon Monoxide" flyers in multiple languages are available here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/preparedness/disaster/CarbonMonoxide.aspx

•Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/practice/resources-about-winter-weather-and-carbon-monoxide-address-preparedness-needs-new

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