The Burn Center at Loyola University Medical Center is warning the public about the dangers of space heaters.
Whenever bitter cold, ice and snow arrive, hospitals see more burn injuries caused by improper use of heating devices, said Michael Mosier, MD. Mosier is a burn surgeon at the Loyola Burn Center, which treats nearly 700 patients annually in the hospital and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters.
Some tips from Loyola and the U.S. Department of Energy for space heater safety include:
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from furniture or other combustible material, such as curtains and bedding. Don’t place heaters on carpets or rugs.
- Locate space heaters on a hard, level surface where a child or family pet cannot brush up against them.
- Never leave a space heater on when an adult is not present in the room.
- Never keep flammable liquids near a space heater.
- Mobile homes should use only vented fuel-fired heaters or electric heaters.
Electric space heaters are the safest space heaters for the home. Plug electric space heaters directly into a wall outlet and use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger if an extension cord is needed. Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch to shut off the heating element if the unit topples over.
Use unvented combustion heaters only outside your home, because they can introduce harmful products such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into your breathing area. With these combustion heaters, remember to never fill a heater that is hot and make sure there is a guard around the heating element or flame area.
Source: Loyola University Health System (www.loyolamedicine.org), which includes over 30 primary and specialty care facilities throughout the Chicago area. Loyola Burn Center consists of a multidisciplinary team, which includes resuscitation, pulmonary support, wound management, nutritional support and rehabilitation personnel, and was awarded verification by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Burn Association (ABA). This recognition is only granted to those programs that have met and exceeded the ACS and ABA standards and review.
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