10 Winter Home Safety Tips
"Winter and snow can be a fun time for families, but it is important that parents take steps towards ensuring a safe home environment for children and pets," says National Child Safety and Health Expert Debra Holtzman J.D., M.A, , the best-selling author of "The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living" (Sentient Publications). Visit Debra Holtzman's Website , Connect with her on Twitter @SafetyExpert_ and on Facebook
Debra offers these easy-to-implement home safety tips to keep your entire family safe:
1. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Change batteries at least once every year—an easy way to remember is to do it in the spring or fall when you change the clocks; test them monthly; replace the units every 10 years. Smoke alarms can cut your family's chances of dying in a fire by nearly half. Plan escape routes and conduct fire drills with the entire family at least twice a year. Designate a fixed place outside the home where family will meet.
2. Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up: Install a CO alarm in the hallway near the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area. In addition, place one at least 15 feet from any fuel-burning appliance. More than 500 people die each year in the US from unintentional, non-fire related CO poisoning.
3. Three Activities to NEVER do:
-- burn charcoal in homes, tents, vehicles or garages
-- run a car in a garage, even if the garage doors are open
-- operate any sort of portable generator indoors, including homes, garages, basements, carports, crawl spaces and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.
Follow the instructions that come with your portable generator. Locate the unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
4. Set hot water heaters no higher than 120 degrees F. Water with 140 degrees F. will produce a third-degree burn on a child in just 3 seconds! A lower water temperature will reduce the chance of scald burns.
5. To prepare for major snow storms and other natural disasters, assemble a fully stocked disaster supplies kit. Include baby supplies, nonperishable foods, water, prescription and necessary OTC medication, manual can opener, flashlights, radio, and batteries. Include essential items for your pets. Your kit should contain at a minimum, a 3-day supply. Glow-in-the-dark sticks are great to keep on hand, too; Children love them and they provide a nonflammable, non-spark producing, portable light.
Buying tip: Look for flashlights and radios powered by hand cranking so you won't have to worry about depleted batteries when power outages or other emergencies hit.
6. Assemble a fully stocked first aid kit. Include a first aid manual, disposable gloves, bandages of several sizes, antiseptic wipes and sharp scissors. Adults and teens should enroll in a first aid and CPR class.
7. Post emergency telephone numbers near every phone in your home and on the refrigerator, and put emergency numbers in your cell phone. Include the National Poison Hotline (1-800-222-1222), Police, Pediatrician, Veterinarian, Dentist, Family Doctor, and Fire Department. Also include the telephone number of a friend or relative living outside of the emergency area. (A caller is more likely to connect with a long-distance number outside the emergency area than with a local number within it.)
Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1.
You can use this handy form to Post Emergency Telephone Numbers.
8. When you use anti-freeze, take precautions. Children or pets could drink large amounts of this sweet-tasting liquid if it is left out in an open container or if spilled on your driveway. The main ingredient in many major antifreeze brands is ethylene glycol, which is extremely toxic. Use antifreeze with propylene glycol, which is considerably less toxic, or use antifreeze that has a bittering agent (denatonium benzoate) added to make it taste unpleasant.
9. Place space heaters and other heat sources at least three feet away from all flammable material. Never leave a child or pet unattended in a room with an operating fireplace, wood stove or space heater. (Consider putting a safety gate in the doorway to the room with a fireplace or installing a hearth gate around the area.) Allow ashes to cool before removing them. Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and place it outdoors, at least 10 feet from the home and any other nearby buildings.
10. Keep up-to-date on all recalled products by visiting this website: If you experience a safety problem with a consumer product or want to search for incident reports about products, go to
Lastly, make sure outdoor pets have adequate shelter, unfrozen water and food.
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