Winter activities, whether traversing the slopes or holiday shopping, are fun ways to celebrate the magic of the season. However, families frequently overlook the hazards that come with enjoying these activities, sending thousands to the emergency room. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers safety tips for the winter season:

1. Give your heater space

Use portable generators outside your home and place them at least 20 feet away. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage. The exhaust from portable generators contains poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) which can kill in minutes. Have working CO alarms in your home. Most generator-related deaths from CO poisoning occur during the cold months.

Keep flammable materials at least three feet away from space heaters. Have working fire alarms on every level of your home and bedroom. CPSC estimates that portable electric heaters are involved in about 1,100 fires per year, resulting in about 50 deaths.

2. Don’t forget a helmet

When it comes to winter sports safety, helmets make a difference. And helmets aren’t just for children— they’re for adults, too. Wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent.

Look for helmets that comply with safety standards set by CPSC   and choose a certified helmet that is designed for the particular activity you’re involved in, e.g., bicycling, snowboarding or snowmobiling.

3. Consider toy safety

In 2015, there were more than 185,000 toy-related emergency room treated injuries and 11 deaths associated with toys for children younger than 15 years of age. Riding toys, specifically non-motorized scooters, were the toy category associated with the most injuries. Safety gear should be worn at all times and sized to fit. Include a helmet when gifting riding toys and remain up-to-date with toy recall announcements at CPSC.gov.

4. Beware of hoverboard hazards

CPSC has recalled over 500,000 hoverboards due to a fire hazard. The lithium-ion battery packs can overheat, posing a risk of the hoverboards smoking, catching fire and/or exploding. 

Never charge a hoverboard unattended or overnight. Charge it in an open area away from combustible materials. Only purchase a hoverboard that meets the UL 2272 safety standard.