Dangers of winter

One of the characteristics of winter is the need to keep warm. This is normally done through the use of the home’s heating system or in some instances, wood-burning stoves. Newtown Square firefighters know two major facts about the average home heating system.

One fact is when the unit produces any amount of noticeable heat, most people assume the unit is in good working order.  A second fact is that when a heating system is not in perfect condition, it can become a producer of carbon monoxide.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof stresses, “While carbon monoxide is a year-round problem, the winter has become the most dangerous season for CO, the colorless, odorless killer.”

A recent series of carbon monoxide incidents have become a sad reminder of the dangers of this killer by product of combustion. Those incidents described both death and near-deaths in homes in both Philadelphia and the suburbs.

Chief Everlof explains how these dangers exist,  “Any device or process that incorporates a flame can be a source of carbon monoxide.  Winter heating uses a flame in coal and wood burning, oil, or natural or propane gas heating concepts.”

Continuing how these devices can become potential killer, Everlof adds, “These seasonal heating processes are easily recognized as a source of carbon monoxide.  Equally guilty are non-electric water heaters and other flame producing devices used throughout the year.”

The Newtown Square Fire Company strongly suggests practicing prevention, one of the key tools used by the local emergency service providers.  Have all flame producing devices examined by a trained profession.  “Their knowledge, experience, tools, and skills can provide the needed certification that the device is safe.  Knowing this, both the occupants and the firefighters can sleep safely,” adds Chief Everlof.

The second step is to install and maintain carbon monoxide monitors.  One very sensible location is near family sleeping areas.

Concluding these safety suggestions, Everlof stresses, “If you have any doubts about carbon monoxide dangers, have all occupants and pets leave the area immediately and, using either a cordless or cell phone, call 9 1 1 immediately”

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