With near sub-zero temperatures and another snow storm in the forecast, people are reminded to take extra safety precautions when using alternate heat sources.
New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, “Unattended, improperly vented or malfunctioning space heaters pose a major fire risk. ”
He said those who use a fireplace, wood stove, or portable kerosene heater to stay warm must be sure there is adequate ventilation to the outside. Without enough fresh air, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home.
Never use a natural gas or propane stove/oven to heat your home.
Follow all safety precautions when using wood stoves, space heaters, electric heaters, kerosene heaters, and pellet stoves.
Olsen said now is a good time to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – and to do so at least monthly. Batteries should be replaced at least once a year, and people should replace alarms that are ten years or older.
Olsen also highlighted emergency assistance and other resources that are available to help ensure the safety of older adults – and all New Yorkers – during the winter months.
Individuals facing a home-heating emergency may be eligible for assistance through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which helps low-income people pay the cost of heating their homes. The emergency benefit opened on January 3 and is available for low-income older adults and other New Yorkers whose home heating is either shut off or scheduled to be shut off, as well as for individuals who are running out of home heating fuel or other deliverable heat sources.
Olsen added that neglect, including self-neglect, is the most prevalent form of elder abuse. It can include being deprived of enough food, water or heat. He said, “For individuals with a chronic illness or living in an unsafe environment, the consequences can be catastrophic during cold weather,”
If you are concerned about an older adult’s living situation during the winter months and are unable to assist, you can call Adult Protective Services at 1-844-697-3505.
In Chautauqua County, people concerned about the safety of an older adult at home can also contact the County Office for the Aging at 716-753-4471.