Center for Disease Control offers winter safety tips

Keeping your home safe and warm 

Follow these safety tips from CDC, the National Fire Protection Association, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to prevent injuries and deaths related to heating your home.

● Install a smoke alarm near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Test it monthly. If it has a 9-volt battery, change the battery once a year.

● Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. If your alarm sounds, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that you press the reset button, call emergency services (911 or your local fire department), and immediately move to fresh air (either outdoors or near an open door or window). Know the symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, get fresh air right away and contact a doctor for proper diagnosis.

● Make sure heating equipment is installed properly. Have a trained specialist inspect and tune up your heating system each year.

● Keep portable space heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and clothing. Never drape clothing over a space heater to dry.

● Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Never leave children in a room alone when a space heater is in use.

● If you use a kerosene heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never put gasoline in a kerosene heater--it could explode. Before you refuel the heater, turn it off and let it cool down. Refuel outside only.

● When using a kerosene heater, keep a door open to the rest of the house or open a window slightly. This will reduce the chance of carbon monoxide build-up in the room.

● Have your fireplace chimney and flue inspected each year and cleaned if needed. Open the flue and use a sturdy fireplace screen when you have a fire. Burn only untreated wood; never burn paper or pine branches--pieces can float out the chimney and ignite your roof, a neighbor’s roof, or nearby trees.

● If you use a wood-burning stove, have the chimney connection and flue checked each year. Make sure the stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and coals.

Surviving a winter storm

To survive a snow or ice storm, follow these safety tips from Extreme Cold: A prevention guide to promote your personal health and safety, a publication of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health .

● Be prepared. Before cold weather hits, make sure you have a way to heat your home during a power failure. Keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby when using alternative heating sources.

● Keep on hand extra blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, matches, a first aid kit, manual can opener, snow shovel and rock salt, and special needs items (e.g., diapers).

● Stock a few days’ supply of water, required medications, and food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked.

● Monitor the temperature of your home. Infants and persons over age 65 are especially susceptible to cold. If it’s not possible to keep your home warm, stay with friends or family or in a shelter.

● Dress in several layers to maintain body heat. Covering up with blankets can also conserve heat.

Clearing snow and ice

Clearing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks is hard work. To prevent injuries, follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and other prevention organizations.

● Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose, and ears.

● If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel snow unless your doctor says it’s okay.

● Do light warm-up exercises before shoveling and take frequent breaks.

● If possible, push snow in front of you. If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs, not your back. Do not toss snow over your shoulder or to the side.

● Don’t drink alcohol before or while shoveling snow. Never smoke while shoveling.

● Use rock salt or de-icing compounds to remove ice from steps, walkways, and sidewalks. Sand placed on walkways may also help prevent slipping.

● If you use a snow blower  follow the safety guidelines.