Although the weather has not been frightful thus far in the winter season, it is expected that the cold weather is inevitable for us in the Hudson Valley. That being said, there are a few things that we should be conscious of within our homes during the rest of the winter months. The main concerns people should have, other than the snow, are fires and carbon monoxide within your homes.
Statistics have shown that fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are more frequent during the winter months. It is for this reason that the ESFI proposes that safety procedures be taken to prevent these from happening in your home this winter.
The first is to properly ensure that your heating equipment is secured in your home. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fire result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cold weather, but they also increase the risk of fire and electric shock if not used properly.
To ensure that this does not happen in your home, the following is advised:
- Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep, and don’t let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
- Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
- Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
- Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
- Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
- Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
Additionally, the winter months hold the highest risk for CO poisoning deaths. Every year over 200 people die from CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is created when common fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood or coal burn incompletely. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is often called the “silent killer” because it is virtually undetectable without the use of detection technology like a CO alarm.
To make sure you have properly installed your CO Monitor, check out the following: CO Monitor Safety Tips.
Overall, the winter is a beautiful time of year, but there are risk factors to be cognizant of. Hopefully these tips will help keep you and your home safe this winter.