Indoor Winter Safety

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter FireplaceMost people think of winter as presenting outdoor hazards, but extreme cold can place you at risk even inside your house.


  • Fireplaces, wood stoves and other combustion heaters should have vents to the outside. These must be cleaned regularly to prevent the escape of carbon dioxide inside the house.
  • Open fires should never be left unattended, unless you have a good fireplace screen.
  • Keep portable heaters away from couches, blankets, curtains and other flammable material. Make sure they cannot be knocked over easily by children or pets.
  • Lighters and matches should be stored where children cannot find and play with them. Many house fires occur when children lose control of small experimental fires. 
  • Do not use an electric blanket that has been folded without extensive testing, since the folding might damage the cables inside. Turn it off before you fall asleep. 
  • A barbeque is fun, but a charcoal or gas grill should never be used indoors if lack an outside vent. Save them for the warmer days.
  • Store a dry chemical fire extinguisher near the furnace, fireplace or heater. 
  • Install at least one smoke alarm and carbon dioxide detector for each level of the house, including the basement and outside the bedrooms. Test the alarm and batteries every few months and replace as needed. 
  • Every family should prepare an evacuation plan and practice it from time to time.
  • Old people and small children are especially at risk of cold: seniors because their metabolisms slow down too much to produce heat, and small children because they cannot shiver to warm themselves. Check the temperature in their rooms often, or share a bedroom with them on especially cold nights.
  • Regular warm meals and drinks will keep your body temperature high and give your body the necessary energy to warm itself.
  • Frozen water pipes will leave you without water and may even burst. During the run-up towards winter, check that your home's pipes are properly insulated, leave kitchen and bathrooms cupboards slightly open so the heat inside the house can warm the pipes and allow one or two taps to drip during especially cold weather.

You can be safely warm and well-fed inside your home this winter if you take appropriate precautions.