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Living on a fixed income? You still need to heat your house

During cold weather months, don’t risk hypothermia in order to keep your heating bill down.

Living on a low or fixed income doesn’t have to mean low home temperatures or unpaid heating bills. There are organizations that want to help.

Help is available

There is help available for Pennsylvanians living on a fixed/low income who are having trouble paying for heat. The program is called the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The program gives cash grants to people to help them heat their homes or if they are in immediate danger of being without heat. The grants, which range from $200 to $1,000, are sent directly to the heating company and are credited to your bill. They do not have to be paid back.

To qualify, you have to meet certain income guidelines but you do not have to be on public assistance or have an unpaid heating bill. All you need to do is fill out a form on-line or at your local county assistance office. You need names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and household income for the members of your household, as well as a recent heating bill.

Accidental death can happen.

Don’t risk death.  Operating a furnace itself is not enough.  The heat has to be set high enough to not feel the effects of hypothermia.

The Mayo Clinic reports that hypothermia can set in when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees. The low temperature forces your heart, lungs and nervous system to act improperly. Eventually, your heart and lungs will fail and you will die.

Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

The symptoms usually occur gradually so the victim is often unaware they are in danger.  Set your thermostat for warmth inside your home.  LIHEAP is available if you need help paying the utility bill.