As more than 93 million Americans face the challenges of snow, ice and sleet from winter storms, the potential for power outages and subsequent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning grows exponentially.
As evidenced by the more than 20 CO poisonings reported in the Philadelphia area after last week's snow storm, the winter months mark the peak time for house fires and carbon monoxide poisonings. Extreme weather pushes families to look to alternative sources to heat their home and prepare food. Improperly ventilated generators also pose a significant risk.
The experts at Kidde Fire Safety recommend these simple steps to help keep homes worry-free from fire and CO during the aftermath of winter's wrath:
-Make sure your home has working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms on every level and in sleeping areas. The only way to detect the presence of CO – an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, is with a working CO alarm.
-If the storm has yet to hit your area, visit your local home improvement center to replace non-working alarms or purchase additional units featuring a 10-year sealed-in battery. Kidde's Worry-Free alarms provide a decade of continuous protection with no low-battery chirps.
-Review your fire escape plan as a family; know two ways out of each room.
-Check fire extinguisher gauges and place the units within reach in the kitchen, garage and bedroom.
In addition, the experts at Kidde recommend the following winter storm safety tips:
Carbon Monoxide Prevention
-Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
-Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside.
-Do not use unvented gas or kerosene space heaters in enclosed spaces. Keep doors open to the rest of the house to help promote proper ventilation.
-Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool to avert the buildup of carbon monoxide, especially at night while families sleep.
-Do not run a fuel-powered engine, such as a vehicle or generator, inside the home or in an attached garage or carport. CO fumes can seep into the home through air intake valves, baseboards and doors.
-Keep dryer vents clear of snow to ensure proper venting.
-Ensure that space heaters meet the latest safety standards, which would include having an automatic cut-off device and guarding around the heating coils and burners.
-Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, and keep them at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials.
-Turn off space heaters when you leave an area or before going to sleep. Keep children and pets away.
-Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors could explode. Keep flammable materials away.
Extreme weather conditions serve as a timely reminder to take stock in home emergency preparations. As everyday life returns to normal, conduct a simple review of your home's safety equipment and plans to ensure you are prepared for Mother Nature's next blast.