Elderly more at risk as temperatures dip: home heating safety ti - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Elderly more at risk as temperatures dip: home heating safety tips

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

It's beginning to feel a lot like fall outside, especially at night with temperatures possibly dropping into the 30's and 40's this week.

Some are already cranking up the heat inside their homes but there are a few things you need to do to make sure you're staying warm safely.

The devices that keep us warm during the fall and winter can be deadly.

"Using space heaters inside, you shouldn't do that. They put off Carbon Monoxide; especially the Kerosene heaters," Columbus Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Mike Higgins said.

More than 3,400 people across the country die each year in fires; more than 17,000 are injured, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Chief Mike Higgins says if you must use a space heater or fireplace you should follow these safety guidelines. 

"Monitor and make sure they're ventilated," Higgins warned.

For proper ventilation the heating device should have plenty of open space around it.  Higgins suggested having your fireplace cleaned by a professional and to never use an oven to heat your home.

"It happens mostly to the elderly that like to stay warm quite often and don't realize that the space heaters that they may be using do put off Carbon Monoxide," Chief Higgins said.

Officials report every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires; many of which could've been prevented.

You can't smell, see, or taste Carbon Monoxide. It's sometimes even referred to as the silent killer.

"Some of the symptoms that you have initially are like fatigue dizziness. You could lose motor control, vomiting, and it could lead to death," Chief Higgins said.

Studies show that almost 200 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

With colder weather already in The Chattahoochee Valley and some states seeing snow, researchers are predicting 90% of U.S. homes will see hikes in their bills.

Officials say consumers have several options to lessen the economic burden of paying for higher energy bills during the colder months like installing a programmable thermostat.

Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.   

Using a traditional fireplace to heat your home is also not a good idea. Fireplaces actually pull the heated air out of the home to fuel the fire, causing your furnace to work harder.

We spoke with a technician at Riley Heating and Air that says getting a seasonal check-up on your home heating system can also help you save big.

"Having your units serviced at least once a year helps you maintain energy efficiency and can help you save a couple hundred of dollars in break down costs a year," Joey Hurd with Riley Heating and Air

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