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Senior citizens urged to take caution against the cold
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ATLANTA — As temperatures dip below freezing, the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Aging Services urges older adults and families to practice safety tips such as keeping electric and kerosene heaters away from flammable materials, checking smoke alarm batteries and looking for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include symptoms such as headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause loss of consciousness and death. It is found in fumes from stoves, burning wood, gas ranges and other heating sources.

“We urge older individuals, at risk adults, persons with disabilities, and their families to use safety precautions while keeping warm this winter,” said Maria Greene, director of DAS.

To prevent safety hazards, individuals should equip their homes with at least one smoke alarm on each floor and a carbon-monoxide alarm in the hallway near each sleeping area.

Develop a fire escape plan before fire occurs and practice it.

Do not use space heaters in wet or moist places such as bathrooms unless specified for that purpose.

Water damage or corrosion to heaters can cause shock and fire hazards. Do not place the heater close to drapes, beds or other flammable materials.

Do not place heaters in elevated positions such as counter tops, and never leave a space heater on while asleep.  

Fireplaces should have a non-flammable gate or guard in front to shield carpet from sparks, and do not store wood or paper too close to the fireplace.

Individuals can reduce their exposure to carbon monoxide by using proper fuel in kerosene space heaters, having an exhaust fan over gas stoves to vent fumes outdoors, and having trained professionals inspect, clean and tune-up furnaces and chimneys annually.