Follow the “3 Feet Rule”
During the winter months in which you need to heat your home, you want to take extra caution that children, pets, and flammable items are kept at least 3 feet away from any heating equipment — the American Red Cross terms this “3 feet from the heat.” This would mean 3 feet away from portable space heaters, fireplaces, and any other type of heat source.
Heat Your Home Wisely
Do not turn on your gas or electric stove to heat your house. It’s dangerous and can cause fire or carbon monoxide poisoning (see more about CO poisoning below). Some of us at SMG grew up with our mother’s leaving the oven door open after cooking a casserole while the oven cooled down (oven was off at this point) — it created a warm and cozy kitchen, but it probably wasn’t too safe with little ones crawling around. So even though your mum did it, just think things through before you do it.
Use Flashlights, Not Candles
This is another great tip from the American Red Cross. It’s safer to have a stock of flashlights and/or lanterns instead of candles if there is a power outage. Older lanterns use gas, and you wouldn’t be able to use a gas lantern in the home if there is a power outage due to possible carbon monoxide poisoning. But the newer lanterns will use batteries with ultra bright LEDs that use very little power — the battery life will go on for a very long time — and are safe to use indoors.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is most often a winter danger. It happens when you are exposed to gas given off by gas furnaces, cars, charcoal grills, propane stoves, and portable generators.
Here is what the Centers for Disease Control recommends as precautions:
- Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
- Never use a gas-powered charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home.
- Never run a generator or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
- Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
- Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
- If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional right away.
(This post was updated from the original 1/16/16 post.)