Extreme cold isn’t limited to the outdoors. If there’s a power outage or an overworked heating system breaks down, or the home isn’t sufficiently insulated, families not adequately prepared can be in real danger. Even if everything seems to be working, dangers can lurk.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that before the temperature starts to drop, make sure you have an easy to read thermometer. Especially if there are young children or elderly people in your home whose bodies may be more susceptible to lower temperatures, depending on the often hard-to-ready thermostat thermometer can let it get dangerously cold. Also, having thermometers around the house makes it easy to see where it’s getting too cold before the thermostat, usually kept in a warmer interior room, gets the message.
Make sure that your emergency heating source is in good condition before you need it. If your home is equipped with a fireplace or wood burning stove and you plan to use it for emergency heating, have the chimney and flue inspected regularly. A chimney or flue that isn’t in top condition is a fire hazard.
If your emergency source of heat is a kerosene heater, put it in a place with plenty of ventilation and at least three feet away from anything flammable, such as curtains and furniture. Also, be sure you use only use the type of fuel that heater was made to be used with. For electric heaters, the same guidelines for placement apply, and you also should check the electrical cord regularly to be sure it’s in good, condition.
If you use an extension cord with the heater, make sure it’s a heavy-duty, appliance grade cord. Lower-gauge cords can be fire hazards, and you really can’t be too careful with heaters. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, stationary and portable heaters accounted for 32 percent of reported home heating fires in 2010. So even the safest home should keep a properly charged fire extinguisher handy during cold weather.
While you may never experience an emergency situation, preparing for one each year could keep your family happy and safe.