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Winter health, safety tips

2/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

OHIO — Winter’s various dangers to people can occur suddenly, like a heart attack while shoveling snow, or slow and stealthily like carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Hypothermia and frostbite also are areas for concern, especially for the elderly and for people with chronic health conditions. The Ohio departments of Aging, Health and Mental Health offer these safety tips to help keep you and your family safe this winter season.

Carbon monoxide poisoning, fire prevention

As the weather turns cold, Ohioans look for ways to save on heating costs during these tough economic times. The use of alternative heating sources such as portable heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves increases. Fire deaths and CO poisoning are increased risks from using alternate heating sources. Home heating equipment is among the top causes of fires and CO poisoning.

The Ohio departments of Health and Aging suggest the following safety tips to prevent injury from CO poisoning and fire.

  • Install a battery-operated CO detector and smoke alarms throughout the home, and check or replace the batteries twice a year, when you change the time on the clocks every spring and fall. If the CO detector or smoke alarm sounds, leave the building immediately and call 9-1-1.
  • Have a fire safety escape plan. Keep escape routes clear and free of clutter and trip hazards. Keep a robe, slippers, eyeglasses and keys close to the bed.
  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal-burning appliance serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning or are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseous.
  • Do not heat your house by using a gas oven.
  • Do not run or warm a vehicle inside a garage that is attached to the home, even if the garage door is open.

If using a fireplace or wood stove:

√ Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.

√ Keep the hearth area clear of debris, decorations and flammable material.

√ Do not burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented.

√ Do not leave fires burning unattended.

If using a portable heater:

√ Keep the heater at least 1 foot away from people, pets and objects.

√ Do not leave portable heaters on when no one is home.

√ Turn the heater down or off when you are sleeping.

√ Unplug electrical appliances/heaters when not in use.

√ Never hang damp clothes near a heater to dry them.

For additional information on winter health and safety, visit the following: emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/, www.odh.ohio.gov/features/odhfeatures/winterweather.aspx or www.aging.ohio.gov/information/emergencypre paredness/.

For additional information on cold weather safety and preparedness, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness website at www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.

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