West Penn Burn Center: During Winter's Worst Cold, Stay Safe While Using Space Heaters

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West Penn Burn Center Joins With Local Fire Departments to Launch “Space Heaters Need Space” Initiative, Educating the Public on the Safe Use of Home Heating Through Tip Sheet, Video, Social Media Outreach

"By making small conscious choices with space heater use, the public can remain safe while staying warm." Ariel Aballay, MD, West Penn Burn Center Medical Director

Every winter, someone is killed, injured or loses a home in an accident involving space heaters.

This winter the West Penn Burn Center, part of the Allegheny Health Network, has partnered with Etna Volunteer Fire Department, and Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #1, to bring you the “Space Heaters Need Space” campaign.

“Space Heaters Need Space” aims to bring awareness to the risks associated with the improper use of space heaters.
Just a few of the recent space heater-related fires in the Pittsburgh area include a February 2015 incident in which an East Hills woman died after flammable items were left too close to a space heater and caught fire, and a January 2015 fire in which three Point Breeze residents, including an infant, lost their home.

“Home heating fires are a significant problem in the United States. 130,000 home fires were reported in 2014. Of these fires, home heating was the second leading cause, with space heaters being a significant part of that problem. About 16,000 people were injured and 3,000 killed,” said Gregory Porter, Chief of Etna Volunteer Fire Department.

The fully integrated campaign includes:
        - Video showing how quickly a chair can go up in flames – within minutes – when fabric is placed too close to the heating element of a space heater.
        - Video available to news media and posted on AHN social media channels featuring interviews on space heater safety with personnel from the West Penn Burn Center, Etna Volunteer Fire Department and Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #1.
        - Informational fliers with essential safety guidelines available on request to senior citizen groups, colleges and universities, or community groups.
        - A social media campaign educating the public on the safe use of space heaters.

“By making small conscious choices with space heater use, the public can remain safe while staying warm,” said West Penn Burn Center Medical Director Ariel Aballay, MD.

The video demonstration took place in the controlled environment of the Monroeville Fire Training Center. During the demonstration members of Etna Volunteer Fire Department and Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #1 show just how quickly a small space heater can ignite a large and disastrous fire when misused.

All of the resources of the “Space Heaters Need Space” campaign will be featured on the Allegheny Health Network Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel in addition to being available on the West Penn Burn Center website and Facebook page.

The West Penn Burn Center encourages everyone to take safety precautions when using space heaters and any other alternative heating equipment this winter. For more information on the “Space Heaters Need Space” campaign follow Allegheny Health Network and the West Penn Burn Center on Facebook or Twitter @AHNToday, or visit the burn center website at http://www.ahn.org/specialties/burn-center. To request informational handouts, or for any questions, please email mrupert(at)wpahs.org.

About the Allegheny Health Network:
Allegheny Health Network, part of Highmark Health, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is comprised of eight hospitals, including its flagship academic medical center Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg Hospital, Forbes Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital, Westfield Memorial Hospital and West Penn Hospital; an employed physician organization, a research institute, health + wellness pavilions, home and community-based health services and a group purchasing organization. The Network employs approximately 17,500 people, and has more than 2,100 physicians on its medical staff. The Network also serves as a clinical campus for both Temple University School of Medicine and Drexel University College of Medicine. AHN also has established a collaborative relationship with Johns Hopkins Medicine to advance medical research and explore opportunities for improving patient care quality, access and affordability.

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Stephanie Waite