Top 6 Winter Home Dangers

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Crisp, frosty mornings and freshly fallen snow may also bring certain dangers at home. Understanding the most common winter home dangers will help you stay safe and happy this season.

1. Icy Slips and Falls

One of the most common winter hazards is falling on ice or packed snow on your own property. To prevent accidents:

  • Shovel sidewalks, driveways and walkways clean. Use salt, de-icing crystals, sand or even kitty litter in these areas to melt any remaining ice or at least provide traction. If you have pets, consider choosing a pet friendly de-icing product to protect their paws from salt and harsh chemicals.
  • Wear flat, non-slip shoes in slippery weather. If you must walk on ice, consider using ice cleats that attach to shoes.

Top 6 Winter Home Dangers |

2. Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Injuries

Sprucing up your house with festive lights and a Christmas tree may bring the risk of fires and even electrocution if you aren’t careful. To decorate safely:

  • Choose an artificial tree or a very fresh natural one. Cut natural tree two inches from base and always keep water in tree stand. Position artificial and natural trees away from fireplaces, heaters, heat registers and wood stoves.
  • Keep outdoor lights away from power lines.
  • Only choose holiday lights that have been tested by an independent lab.
  • Never burn candles near your tree or leave them unattended.
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for safe holiday lighting use and be careful not to string too many lights on a single extension cord.
  • Discard strings of light with frayed insulation, bare wires or cracked/broken sockets.
  • Never run electrical cords under rugs.
  • Unplug holiday lights when you go to sleep or leave home.

3. Fireplace and Chimney Hazards

Cold winter nights are the perfect time to snuggle by a roaring fire. Unfortunately, poorly maintained fireplaces and chimneys increase the risk of winter home fires. To protect yourself:

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually, before the cold weather begins to remove flammable buildup of creosote and blockages from bird’s nests or fallen leaves.
  • Always use a metal mesh fireplace screen.
  • Don’t leave Christmas stockings hanging in front of the fireplace while you have a fire going.
  • After you put out your fire, soak ashes in a water-filled metal container and then bring the container outdoors. Never dump the ashes on the ground until they’ve had at least four days to cool.

4. Roof Collapse

When too much snow builds up on your roof, that weight may be more than the roof can handle. During severe winters, injury from a roof collapse is a real danger. Have a professional remove extreme snow buildup from your roof promptly, particularly if it is flat or not strongly pitched.

5. Alternative Heating Injuries

To keep warm during power outages, or often just for economic reasons, many people turn to alternative heating sources such as kerosene heaters, propane heaters or gas generators. When used carelessly, these heat sources pose the risk of tragic winter injuries and deaths. These tips will help you stay warm safely:

  • Keep children at least three feet from any heat source.
  • All heat sources should be at least three feet away from walls, bedding, furniture, clothing or anything else combustible.
  • Make sure to have proper ventilation.
  • Don’t run a generator in your home, garage or basement. Keep it outside, preferably in a covered area.
  • Keep fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide detector.

6. Falling Branches and Icicles

During and after winter storms, falling heavy tree limbs and sharp icicles bring a real injury risk. To reduce this risk, keep your trees healthy and well trimmed, keep gutters clean and clear and try to remove icicle buildup from the edges of your roof when possible.



Last Updated: January 6, 2013
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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