Filled with holidays, traditions, and cozying up in front of a fire, it’s no wonder winter is dubbed the most wonderful time of the year. While there is a lot to look forward to this season, colder weather also brings its own set of risks. There are steps you can take to prepare your home and worry less this winter. Follow these tips to protect you and your loved ones this season.
- Check your carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, flammable gas that can be fatal when inhaled in large quantities. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever fuel is burned, such as when you use a gas grill, run your car, use a gas-burning fireplace, gas stove, or have a gas-powered hot water heater. “Carbon monoxide is so dangerous because it is silent,” says Kettering Health Network Emergency Medicine Coordinator Ryan Konkel, MS, NRP. “You can’t smell it or taste it. You often won’t know there is a problem until you start to experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.” Every home should have a working carbon monoxide detector. Check to see if your detector is operational, never run your car in the garage to warm it up, and make sure all gas valves are closed on fireplaces, stoves, and grills when not in use. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, immediately leave the house and call 911.
- Be smart with space heaters. Dropping temperatures outside can require extra heat inside. If you use a space heater in your home, purchase one with an anti-switch tip. This safeguard automatically shuts off a heater if it is tipped over. Make sure you are using the correct space heater for the size room you need heated, and place the heater away from furniture, curtains, and other flammable items.
- Fix up your fireplace. Fireplaces are the heart of the home during the winter months. While you are decorating the mantle, make a point to have the inside of your chimney checked too. Soot and debris can build up in the fireplace and flue, which can lead to heat entrapment and a fire. Make sure your fireplace is safe by scheduling a professional inspection and cleaning.
- Be careful with candles and holiday lights. Twinkling trees, pre-lit garland, and candles are all part of holiday traditions that add a warm glow to the season. They can also pose a serious safety hazard. “Make sure you are using newer strands of lights when decorating,” says Ryan. “Lights that have been recently manufactured are designed to protect against overheating. If you are lighting candles, place them away from curtains, furniture and other flammable objects and out of reach of children. Finally, make sure to never leave lights on or candles lit when you leave home or go to sleep.”
- Vamp up protection against viral infections. From influenza to COVID-19, viral infections surge in the winter months because people spend more time indoors and in closer contact with each other. “If you or someone who lives in your home is sick, stay home and consult your doctor before returning to work or school,” says Ryan. “Make sure you are regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home, that members of your household are frequently washing their hands, and that your HVAC system is serviced so it properly filters out particulates and you are getting fresh moving into your home.”
Do your part to prepare for a safe season indoors and make sure you know where the closest emergency center is, should an emergency arise.
Find your nearest emergency center at ketteringhealth.org/emergency