Winter Safety Tips

Home Heating
With the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities, many homeowners are turning to alternate sources of fuel for heating their homes.  These alternate methods include space heaters, and wood burning stoves.  Following these simple fire safety tips canhelp maintain a fire safe home this winter.  Remember, in New York City, propane or kerosene space heaters are illegal.  If you choose to use electric space heaters:

  • Use units that are UL rated.
  • Move all combustibles including furniture three feet away from heater.
  • Do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Do not use an extension cord.
  • Make sure heater has a tip-over switch that will  automatically shut off the device.
  • Do not use in bathrooms or other moist areas.
  • Always use heaters on the floor, never on furniture.
  • Always turn off space heaters when leaving the home, or sleeping.

Carbon Monoxide
What is Carbon Monoxide?   It is an odorless, colorless, tasteless toxic gas produced from incomplete burning of any fuel.  Many times the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure mimic the flu-headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.  At very high concentrations, it can quickly cause death.  Many appliances found in the home can produce carbon monoxide if not properly maintained. Gas stoves, fireplaces, heating equipment, gas dryers, hot water heaters and even your car can produce carbon monoxide. 

New York City requires a carbon monoxide detector be installed in all residential occupancies.  Detectors should be placed on each level of the home, near the sleeping areas, and at least 5 feet away from any fuel-burning appliance such as a furnace, or hot water heater.  If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, evacuate every one from the house, open windows and call the fire department.  Test your detector monthly, and change the batteries twice a year when changing your clocks. 

  • Install and properly maintain (change batteries when you reset the clocks) smoke and CO detectors.
  • Have your home heating system checked annually.   
  • Frozen pipes?  Never use a torch or other open flame-use a UL listed hair dryer.
  • Never use propane or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage.
  • Never use your oven or gas stove to heat the home.

Have you checked the dates on your compressed air tanks?

Both the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the NYC Fire Department (FDNY) require CO2 cylinders be pressure tested (by the vendor) every 5 years, and every 10 years for all other compressed gases.  The Fire Department performs weekly inspections of our laboratories, and your lab may receive a violation notice if cylinders are present beyond their expiration date.  

Recently EH&RS/EH&S, along with TechAir, performed an audit of all compressed gas cylinders on the Medical Center and Morningside campuses, and identified outdated TechAir cylinders. Labs that have compressed gas cylinders from other vendors should check the expiration dates to ensure their cylinders are not overdue for testing.  The test date is engraved on top on the cylinder next to the valve. Please call EH&RS/EH&S if you have questions

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