Winter's Freezing Temperatures Increase Portable Heater Use and Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning During Power Outages
Power outages increase the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning and death if unsafe heaters are brought indoors.
Cleveland (I-Newswire) December 10, 2013 - The freezing temperatures, snow and ice of the winter not only wreak havoc on travel plans but can also lead to power outages that can last for days. That's when people start to search for different ways to keep warm.
Portable propane heaters have become a popular choice for providing temporary relief from freezing temperatures during power outages. However, using a portable propane heater that is not designed for indoor use could lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Consumers less experienced with portable propane heaters should make sure they are using a portable heater that is designed for safe, indoor use during a power outage.
Home centers, hardware stores and mass retailers offer a variety of portable heaters that operate with propane to heat chilly workspaces, garages, sheds and other ventilated spaces where electric power is not available.
"There are portable heaters specifically designed and approved for temporary indoor use," says Dennis Pavan, a spokesman for CampSafe.org, an online camping and product safety information website. "When you are shopping for a portable heater, it is critically important that you read the packaging and the operating instructions. That could mean the difference between life and death."
Outdoor-only heaters, such as propane tank-mounted radiant heaters and portable forced-air propane and kerosene heaters (sometimes called "torpedo heaters") have traditionally been used at construction sites and football sidelines. When these types of heaters are brought inside a residential home or garage, the risk of CO poisoning is significantly increased.
CO is a colorless, odorless and highly poisonous gas that is produced from incomplete combustion. CO interferes with the blood's ability to transport oxygen to the lungs and can result in flu-like symptoms including headache, nausea and dizziness. Increased exposure without exposure to fresh air can lead to death by asphyxiation.
If you are planning to purchase a portable propane heater to use as an emergency back-up for power outages or to heat a chilly garage or workshop, you need to make sure that you look for a heater that is identified as indoor-safe. Indoor safe heaters feature an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) that will automatically shut off the heater if the available air flow is reduced below a safe level.
"It is important to remember that any fuel-burning appliance needs fresh air to operate," Pavan said. "The more you reduce air circulation the more you increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning."
CampSafe.org urges consumers to follow these safe heating tips:
• Always read the manufacturers' packaging and operating instructions for proper use and handling.
• Heaters identified as "outdoor use only" burn fuel at a high rate and must never be used indoors or in tents, campers, residential garages, trailers or other enclosures.
• Know the symptoms of CO poisoning (e.g., nausea, dizziness, headache, etc.) If you think that you may be affected, immediately turn off any possible source of CO and move to an area with fresh air.
• Remember that portable gas-fired generators operate on fuel combustion and should never be operated indoors. When operating a generator outdoors, place it away from windows and air intakes.
• No matter how cold, no fuel-burning appliance, including indoor-safe appliances, should be left unattended or operated while sleeping.
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CampSafe is an organization dedicated to educating the public about the safe use of propane camping products in order to help people avoid potentially dangerous situations. For more information about indoor-safe propane heaters, visit www.campsafe.org or write to P.O. Box 45002, Cleveland, OH, 44145, for a free safety brochure.
Media Contact: Dennis Pavan, CampSafe Coalition, at (216) 875-8860.
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Published On:December 10, 2013
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