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Warm Up to These Winter Safety Tips

Photo: Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao

Winter activities, whether outdoors on the slopes or indoors by the fire, are fun ways to enjoy the season. Unfortunately, families frequently overlook some winter hazards that send thousands to the emergency room each year. 

Give your space heater space

If not used properly, space heaters can quickly create a deadly fire. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates from 2014-2016 that space heaters caused 1,400 fires, resulting in 70 deaths, 100 injuries, and $53 million in property loss.

Here are some tips to safely stay warm this winter: 

  • Your space heater needs space. Keep flammable objects like curtains, sofas, beds, clothes, and papers at least 3 feet away from your space heater at all times.
  • Make sure your space heater is placed on a stable, flat surface in an area where it can’t be knocked over.
  • Do not leave the heater on while you are not there or while you are sleeping.
  • Install smoke alarms on each floor of your home, outside all sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. Test them monthly.

Clear snow safely

Most snow blower injuries happen when people try to clear snow from the discharge chute, so be cautious when working with this part of the device.

Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area. The exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide that can kill in minutes.

Don’t add gasoline to a running or hot engine, and always keep the gasoline can properly capped.

Carbon monoxide – the invisible killer

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) that can kill in minutes. 

Have your heating system inspected and serviced by a qualified technician each year, including furnaces and chimneys.

Never leave a car running in a garage, even if the garage door is open.

Most generator-related deaths from CO poisoning occur during the cold months. Have working CO alarms on each level of your home and outside sleeping areas. 

Helmets save lives

Helmets aren’t just for kids — adults need them, too. Wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury.

Choose a certified helmet that is designed for the particular activity you’re participating in (e.g., bicycling, snowboarding, snowmobiling).

See our helmet safety publication “Which Helmet for Which Activity” for more information.

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