The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to be vigilant about fire and carbon monoxide (CO) hazards in the colder winter months ahead. The dangers, although present across all populations, disproportionately affect African Americans who have the highest rate of fire deaths, nearly twice the overall rate across the population. In addition, African Americans represent 22 percent of portable generator-related CO deaths, nearly 170 from 2010-2020.
Please follow these CPSC safety tips to keep your family safe:
CPSC estimates that portable heaters are involved in about 1,700 fires per year, resulting in about 80 deaths and 160 injuries annually.
Keep flammable materials at least three feet away.
Always plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet and never into a power strip, to prevent overloading and causing a fire.
Space heaters can also present a hyperthermia (overheating) hazard to consumers, particularly children, people with disabilities and senior citizens. Hyperthermia can result in death. DO NOT leave space heaters running unattended in a confined space around infants, or individuals with reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities.
Smoke and CO Alarms
Working smoke and CO alarms save lives!
Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside each bedroom.
CO alarms should be placed on every level of home outside sleeping areas.
Test the alarms monthly to make sure they are working.
Replace batteries at least once every year, or install smoke and CO alarms with sealed, 10-year batteries.
Furnaces, Fireplaces and Chimneys
Have fireplace flues, chimneys and furnaces inspected by a professional before the heating season.
From 2010-2020, CPSC estimates that more than 700 people died from CO poisoning associated with generators, over 50 in 2020.
Use portable generators outside only and place them at least 20 feet from the home. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage.
Use flashlights instead of candles
During power outages, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns, rather than candles, to light the home. If using candles, never leave burning candles unattended.
Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission
This article originally appeared on The Shawnee News-Star: Everyday Home Blog: Tips for staying safe during colder weather