Many Americans are working at home or attending school virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to increased use of home heating and its potential risks, experts say.
Heating sources can pose electrical hazards and fire dangers, noted officials of the pediatric trauma injury prevention program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
“With pandemic restrictions in place, there are more people in the home during a time when it would traditionally be empty,” officials said in a Vanderbilt news release. “Folks are needing to stay warm. And for some who are not working, they are trying to figure out how to stay warm on less income.”
That could lead to the use of unsafe heating sources, she cautioned.
“During this time, it is so important that people know what heating sources the safest and which ones are to steer clear from to prevent a potentially hazardous situation,” officials said.
A major threat from heating sources is carbon monoxide, often called the silent killer.
In the United States, 170 people a year on average die from carbon monoxide poisoning not associated with vehicles, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Causes include: malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces, and charcoal burning in enclosed areas.
The hospital’s experts offer these tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
To ensure electrical safety, they recommend: