Winter Safety Tips
Winter Safety Tips
There are steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe during the winter heating season, including preparing for weather-related outages; using precautions with alternative heating systems such as generators, kerosene heaters and fireplaces; and assisting people with special needs who may be particularly vulnerable during an outage.
Preparing Your Home - Take the time now to get your home ready for the winter season by following these tips:
- Have your heating system checked by a professional annually. This will ensure that your system is working safely and efficiently which, in turn, will save you money. If you heat by wood, clean your fireplace or stove. Have your chimney flue checked for any buildup of creosote and then cleaned to lessen the risk of fire.
- Replace batteries of smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors. If you did not do it when you set the clocks back, do it now.
- Keep pipes from freezing by wrapping in insulation, UL approved heat tape, or layers of old newspapers and covering newspapers in plastic to keep out moisture. Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
- Gather and store emergency supplies, including:
- A battery-operated radio and flashlight, as well as a supply of batteries, candles and matches.
- Water, medications and foods that don't require refrigeration or cooking
- A telephone that does not require electricity to operate
- A list of emergency telephone numbers
- Extra blankets, coats, hats, and gloves
- A first aid kit and manual
- A fire extinguisher
Staying Warm Indoors - If your heat goes out during a winter storm, follow these tips:
- Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
- Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.
- Close off rooms you do not need.
- Know the signs of hyperthermia (shivering, drowsiness, slowness) and how to treat it (wrap the person in warm clothing, move to a warm location and seek medical help).
- Check on people with special needs (elderly or dependent on life-sustaining or health-related equipment such as ventilators and respirators).
Taking Safety Precautions - Improper use of alternative heating sources can lead to hazardous conditions for you and your home, such as fire, smoke and build-up of carbon monoxide.
- Generator Safety - follow the safety guidelines as printed in your owner's manual. Additional safety precautions can be found in the Spotlight on Generator Safety brochure developed by the NYS Office of the Aging.
- Fire Safety -
- Always keep a screen around an open flame
- Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
- When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
- Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it.
- Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors ... and make sure they work! Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
- Kerosene Heaters - If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
- Follow the manufacturers instructions.
- Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
- Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
- When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.
- Carbon Monoxide - is a deadly gas that also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- DO NOT operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- DO NOT use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
- DO NOT use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
- Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (sleepiness, headaches and dizziness). If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.