Some use dangerous ways to stay warm - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Using dangerous ways to stay warm

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It is an ongoing problem; people fighting to stay warm.

Officials say when the weather gets really cold, some families are forced to rely on dangerous ways to keep warm, such as leaving the oven or a space heater on, even though both of those methods carry a fairly high fire risk.

It's not uncommon to hear about horrible fires in the winter, as folks living on a budget try to find ways to stay warm.

Throughout the past few years, the Economic Opportunity Authority has been forced to make do with smaller grants for their heating assistance program, which is bad news for low-income households which rely on federal subsidies to meet the cost of their heating bills

"In Chatham County, there's over 35,000 people who could qualify for the program," said Terry Tolbert, deputy director of EOA. "The funds we receive actually allows us to see a little over 4,000 people. In addition the the Energy of Assistance Program we have an organization program and many of the houses we see the space heaters, we replace them, especially if they are emitting carbon monoxide."

With so many people in the area needing assistance, the EOA will also make home visits to make sure there are no carbon monoxide leaks or faulty heaters, which pose a safety risk. Tolbert also advises before you plug in a space heater, make sure to check if your house can power it safely.

"So you have to make sure that your house is wired enough to accommodate the extra power you're putting in your house," said Tolbert.

If money is an issue, Tolbert said there are some inexpensive and safer ways to keep your house warm, without leaving a heater running all night.

"They could put door well striplings around their houses," said Tolbert. "They could also bundle up in one room. If they can actually save energy, they could get low fluorescent light bulbs or if possible LED light bulbs which will reduce the cost of energy."

Tolbert also advises having an electrician come out to make sure your home can accommodate the extra power to fuel a space heater. You can also make sure to turn off appliances you aren't using to prevent an overload of the system. and of course, you want to make sure to keep the space heater several feet away from anything that could catch fire, furniture, curtains, clothes, even rugs.

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