MAYWOOD, Ill. – The Burn Center at Loyola University Medical Center is warning the public about the dangers of space heaters and other electrical appliances used to keep warm or decorate homes for the holidays. The tips are available to the public in English and Spanish on Loyola's Web site: www.luhs.org/burnprevention
"Every year we receive patients who are victims of house fires caused by space heaters, " said Dr. Richard L. Gamelli, director, The Burn Center and the Burn and Shock Institute Loyola University Health System. "So many of these injuries are preventable if simple precautions are taken." Gamelli is the Robert J. Freeark, M.D., Professor of Trauma Surgery and professor of Pediatrics, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Loyola's tips cover electrical lights, Christmas trees, candles, space heaters, cooking safety, and bathing. Some key tips for space heater safety include:
Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture or other combustible material, such as curtains and bedding. Don't place heaters on carpets or rugs.
Locate space heaters on a hard, level surface where a child or family pet cannot brush up against them.
Never leave a space heater on when an adult is not present in the room.
Make sure the heater is designed for the size of the room you wish to heat. Indoor pollutants can be produced with a wrong sized heater.
Ensure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide and other hazardous fumes.
Make sure there is a guard around the heating element or flame area of the device.
Do not go to sleep with a space heater turned on. Carbon monoxide levels could rise with fuel-fired heaters.
Portable heaters should have an automatic shut-off.
Never keep flammable liquids near a space heater.
Mobile homes should use only vented fuel-fired or electric heaters.
Tips for electrical lights, trees include:
Inspect all lights before plugging them in; even if they are new.
Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
Unplug all Christmas tree lights before you leave the house or go to bed.
Position live trees away from fireplaces, space heaters and radiators.
Keep a clear path in all rooms in case you have to exit quickly. Gift wrapping, boxes, mail shipments can crowd up the room.
Loyola University Health System is providing the following tips on Christmas trees and candles from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as a public service.
Never use lit candles to decorate a tree, and place them far from tree branches.
Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles.
Give live trees plenty of water daily to keep them as moist as possible.
When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
When decorating Christmas trees, always use safe tree lights. (Some lights are designed only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.) Larger tree lights should also have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb and all lights should be listed by a testing laboratory.
Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use tree lights. Any string of lights with worn, frayed or broken cords or loose bulb connections should not be used.
Children are fascinated with Christmas trees. Keep a watchful eye on them when around the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights.
Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from any heat source.
Position the tree near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances.
Do not place the tree where it may block exits.
Always unplug Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep.
Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles.
Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in a house or garage, or placed against the house.
Candle Safety Remember that a candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite anything combustible nearby.
Place candleholders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
Do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
Avoid placing lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains could close over them.
Use candleholders that are sturdy, steady, made from a material that cannot burn and large enough to collect dripping wax.
Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations).
Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
Keep candlewicks trimmed to one-quarter inch.
Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them
Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material.
Candles and children
Keep candles up high out of reach of children.
Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. A child should not sleep in a room with a lit candle.
Do not allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
Store candles, matches and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
Loyola University Medical Center's Burn Center is a major treatment and research center for burn care in the Midwest and a leader throughout the world. A multidisciplinary team, which includes resuscitation, pulmonary support, wound management, nutritional support and rehabilitation personnel, provide care in the center.
The Burn Center has approximately 70 highly trained staff, including nurses, patient care technicians, service coordinators and service associates. The center is one of the busiest in the Midwest treating more than 400 patients in the hospital each year and more than 2000 in its clinic. Approximately 40 percent of these patients are children.
The Burn Center provides comprehensive care for adults and children with thermal injuries, electrical burns, chemical injury, frostbite, toxic epidural necrolysis, inhalation injury and complex soft tissue infections.
Loyola University Health System, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loyola University Chicago, includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), 18 specialty and primary care centers in the western and southwestern suburbs, the Loyola Ambulatory Surgery Center at Oakbrook, the Loyola Imaging Center at Oakbrook Terrace, a joint venture with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and serves as co-owner-operator of RML Specialty Hospital, a long-term-care facility for ventilator-dependent patients in suburban Hinsdale, Ill. LUMC, a private, academic health care institution, is nationally recognized for its specialty care and research in such areas as cancer, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, pediatrics, neonatology and neurosciences, burn and trauma care and organ transplantation. The 73-acre campus in Maywood, Ill., includes the 523-bed licensed Loyola Hospital with a Level I trauma center, Russo Surgical Pavilion, Cardiovascular Institute, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital of LUMC, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, the Loyola Outpatient Center, 24-bed RIC & LOYOLA acute rehabilitation unit, the region's largest burn unit and one of the Midwest's largest and most comprehensive organ transplant programs.