Be alert for winter dangers

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter weather brings more than colder temperatures, snowstorms and holiday celebrations. It also brings a significantly higher number of residential fires and accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings, tragedies that can be prevented if appropriate safety precautions are in place.

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.

Here are winter fire safety tips provided by NFPA:

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.

Often referred to as the silent killer because you can't see, smell or taste it, carbon monoxide 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 residents avoid carbon monoxide and other dangers associated with power outages and changes in seasonal temperatures:

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.