Older Adults Should Practice Safety While Keeping Warm This Winter

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As the cold winter season brings low temperatures, older adults andfamilies look for ways to stay warm and cut heating costs. TheDepartment of Human Resources, Division of Aging Services (DAS) isurging them to practice safety when heating their homes. Some tipsinclude checking smoke alarm batteries, keeping electric and keroseneheaters away from flammable materials, and looking for signs of carbonmonoxide poisoning, a colorless and odorless gas that can cause suddenillness and death.

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"We urge older individuals, at risk adults, persons with disabilities,and their families to use safety precautions while keeping warm," saidMaria Greene, Director of DAS.

To prevent safety hazards, individuals should equip their homes with atleast one smoke alarm on each floor and a carbon-monoxide alarm in thehallway near each sleeping area. Develop a fire escape plan before fireoccurs and practice it. Do not use space heaters in wet or moist placessuch as bathrooms unless specified for that purpose. Water damage orcorrosion to heaters can cause shock and fire hazards. Do not place theheater close to drapes, beds or other cloth materials. Do not placeheaters in elevated positions such as counter tops, and never leave aspace heater on while asleep. Fireplaces should have a non-flammablegate or guard in front to shield carpet from sparks. Do not store woodor paper too close to the fireplace.

People can reduce their exposure to carbon monoxide by using properfuel in kerosene space heaters. Use an exhaust fan over gas stoves tovent fumes outdoors and have trained professionals inspect, clean, andtune-up furnaces and chimneys annually. Avoid warming up the car insidethe garage.

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