New England winters are among the coldest in the country. Keeping warm during winter is essential to Massachusetts families’ comfort and well-being; but with keeping your family warm, also comes the responsibility of keeping your family safe. State safety agencies recommend families follow these safety tips for a warm, safe winter:
- Maintain your Home’s Heating Equipment. Whether you heat your home with oil or natural gas, have your equipment professionally serviced every year. Most energy companies now offer service plans for low, monthly installments.
- Fireplaces and Stoves Need Maintenance too. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or use a stove (coal, firewood, pellets), have your chimney professionally cleaned every year. Remember to keep anything that can burn (furniture, rugs, curtains, etc.) three feet away.
- Space Heaters Need Space. Do not use space heaters as your sole source of heating. If you must use a space heater, choose one with manufacturer safety features such as automatic shut-off. Remember to turn off your space heater when going to bed or leaving the house and to keep anything that can burn three feet away. If you must use an extension cord, use only heavy-duty, three-prong cords.
- Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms. Place smoke alarms at the bottom of staircases, including the basement, and near bedrooms and in living areas. Test alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Plan and Practice a Fire Drill. Develop and practice an escape plan with your family. Place the plan where everyone can see it such as the refrigerator door. Keep hallways clear of clutter. Agree on a meeting place and, in the event of a real fire, call 9-1-1 from outside. Practice your drill during the day and at night, so your family can learn to follow the plan during different conditions.
Never use ovens, gas grills or hibachis indoors for heating purposes. In addition, space heaters, fireplaces, and stoves can cause serious burns and injury to children; using fire guards such as fireplace screens and extra vigilance is of utmost importance during the winter months.
Staying warm is very important for you and your family, and doing so in the safest possible way will give you both comfort and peace of mind.
For more information on staying warm and safe this winter, visit:
This information is provided by the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program within the Department of Public Health.