As temperatures drop well below freezing, New York Propane and Gas Association urges safe use of space heaters
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 6:16 am

As temperatures are expected to remain barely above 0 degrees for much of this week in St. Lawrence County, the New York Propane Gas Association urging everyone to use their space heaters with caution.

According to the association, consumers are using space heaters to save on energy costs while retaining heat in priority areas around the house. Some heaters offer advanced features include safer electronic ignition systems (eliminating the use of fuel for standing pilots) and direct vent installations, which can be exhausted through an exterior sidewall.

The units can also be mounted on walls – away from children, pets, and potentially hazardous household items.

But there’s only so much a space heater can do to keep itself safe.

• The association recommends using the right kind of space heater for any given home. Some propane space heaters are designed only for use outdoors, while others are designed for indoor use. High levels of carbon monoxide can be generated from heaters that aren’t designed for indoor use.

• Avoid close contact. To help prevent fires and/or burns, place heaters at least three feet away from any objects such as bedding, furniture, or drapes, and avoid close contact by people or pets. Some heaters have very hot surfaces.

• Keep vent pipes clear. If your space heater is meant to be ventilated, check the vents to be sure flue gases can flow easily to the outdoors. Obstructions can cause build-up of carbon monoxide in your home.

Install a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide can make you dizzy, give you headaches, cause flu-like symptoms, or even result in brain damage or death.

• Carbon monoxide detectors let you know when there are excessive levels of this poison in the air.

• Get out and call 911. If you or a family member shows physical symptoms of poisoning, get everyone out of the building and call 911. If it’s safe to do so, open windows to allow entry of fresh air and turn off any appliances you suspect may be releasing carbon monoxide.