Winter weather brings more than colder temperatures and holiday celebrations. It also brings a significantly higher number of residential fires and accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires are most prevalent in December and January and the number of CO related injuries and deaths increase in winter months when furnaces, space heaters and other fuel burning appliances are in use.
"There are several reasons for the increase in fires and CO accidents in winter months," says Debbie Hanson, director of external affairs for BRK Brands/First Alert, a leading manufacturer of fire extinguishers, smoke and CO alarms and other home safety products. "Candles and holiday decorations such as Christmas trees and lights, along with increased use of kitchen appliances for holiday cooking all contribute to the higher incidence of home fires," says Hanson. "Storm-related power outages and the improper use of supplemental or alternative heating sources play a big role in the number of CO poisonings."
Winter Fire Safety Tips
According to Hanson there are simple steps people can take that will greatly reduce the risk of fire-related injury and property loss, which is especially important in cold weather months.
1) Install smoke alarms with both Photoelectric and Ionization sensing technologies on every level of your home and in all sleeping areas for maximum protection.
2) Test smoke alarms at least once a week.
3) Change the batteries in smoke alarms every six months or when the low battery signal is heard.
4) Create and practice a home escape plan at least twice a year, making sure everyone is involved from kids to grandparents.
5) Keep a fire extinguisher or fire extinguishing spray in your kitchen and near other areas where a fire could occur, such as in a workshop, garage or near a fireplace.
Winter Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips
Often referred to as the silent killer because you can't see, smell or taste it, CO is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S. It is a by-product of combustion produced by cars, stoves, water heaters, fireplaces, gas grills and a number of other appliances. The following safety tips will help avoid CO and other dangers:
1) Never run a generator indoors or in a poorly ventilated area, such as a garage or porch, and use the appropriate-size power cords to carry the electric load.
2) Install one battery-operated CO alarm (or AC-powered alarm with battery backup) on every level of the home and one in each sleeping area.
3) Ensure that CO alarms have working batteries installed.
4) Never burn charcoal or other outdoor cooking appliances indoors or in the garage.
5) Inspect and clean any soot and debris, such as bird nests and paper, out of the chimneys, flues and stacks.
Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect without the help of CO alarms. Outward physical symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. To learn more about protecting your family from carbon monoxide and other home hazards, visit www.firstalert.com.