Winter Health & Home Safety Checklist

Winter is approaching, which means lots of festivities—and potential hazards! Tens of thousands of people make trips to the emergency room this time each year due to preventable accidents in the home. With a little preparation and awareness, you can make sure you and your loved ones have a safe and happy winter.

Check out our health and home safety checklist for winter below so you’re prepared and safe during the busy season:

1. Check your alarms and replace dead batteries.

Between all the extra cooking and seasonal decorations that can pose potential hazards, it’s important to keep your alarms up-to-date. Your home should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector on every level away from fuel-burning appliances, as well as smoke detectors outside each bedroom. Make sure they’re functioning and replace dead batteries as needed.

2. Keep your fireplace functioning and secure.

There’s nothing like a cozy fire during the holiday season, but stoke the flames carefully! According to the National Fire Protection Association, 30 percent of all home fires occur between December and February. Before you throw on the first logs of the season, have your flue checked by a professional to make sure it’s working safely, and have your chimney swept. (These should both be done annually.) Finally, make sure you use a protective fireplace screen so sparks don’t fly out onto your rug or furniture, and never leave logs or embers burning when you leave the house or go to bed.

3. Make your kitchen accident-proof.

There’s an uptick in kitchen accidents during the holiday season due to people cooking more frequently or elaborately, not to mention having more distractions. To help you avoid any dangerous mistakes, always use a kitchen timer when putting something on the stovetop or in the oven so you don’t become distracted and leave it unattended for too long. Invest in heat-proof oven mitts and use sharp knives rather than dull ones—dull knives are less safe because they may slip and cut your finger instead. And whether you’re a first-time turkey roaster or an old pro, keep a fire extinguisher handy for any emergencies.

4. Replace holiday lights carefully.

If you like to get festive by hanging string lights, use a steady ladder on an even surface, ideally with someone to spot you. If you need to replace any bulbs or fuses, make sure your lights are unplugged first, and get replacement bulbs with the same wattage as the others. Finally, only use exterior lights outside your home, and use a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to prevent any bulb shorts.

5. Keep your tree watered.

If you celebrate Christmas and put up a tree, keep it hydrated so it doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard. Most fresh trees need to be watered daily, up to a gallon of water. And of course, check your string lights for any burnt-out bulbs to prevent sparks that could lead to a fire.

6. Winter-proof your car.

If you’re traveling someplace cold during the winter months and plan on having wheels, check your tires to make sure they’re not bald. If there’s inclement weather, don’t attempt to drive on ice. Also check your tailpipe to make sure it’s not blocked with snow—this can cause carbon dioxide problems.

7. Stock up on the basics.

Don’t get left in the cold. Spending some time in snowy climates this season? Prepare yourself for inclement weather and stock up in case of a power outage or snowstorm that leaves you stranded. Candles, flashlights, batteries, toilet paper, canned foods, and other nonperishable items are good to have on hand. Sturdy shovels and salt are important for keeping sidewalks and driveways clear and ice-free.


Check out other articles from Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups for more health and safety tips!


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