You may have bundled up your home this winter to resist
the worst temperatures and storms, but have you taken the
precautions needed to ensure your family is safe and
Snowstorms and cold temperatures present a whole new set
of safety risks. The following tips will help protect your
family while keeping energy costs down.
Keep snow and ice from building up and covering your gas
meter, roof overhang and exterior vents. Melting snow from
a roof, freezing rain or water leaking from an eaves
trough can cause ice and snow to build up. This may create
a hazard by cutting off gas service and causing any gas
appliances to malfunction.
When removing snow, avoid piling it up against any meters
or vents. Use a broom or your hand to clear any meter or
other equipment. Also keep your flues and chimneys free of
ice and snow.
Keep a container of salt or sand at entrances to sprinkle
on ice. Remove any liquids or other materials that can be
damaged by freezing from unheated areas such as the
garage, tool shed or outside storage bins. Have your snow
blower checked out well before the first snow, and never
run it inside a garage or basement. If no one in your home
is physically fit to shovel snow, get a power snow remover
or arrange for someone in proper physical condition to
clear your walkways and driveway.
If you burn wood in your fireplace, keep only a few days'
supply indoors. Store the rest outside under some form of
cover to protect it from rain or snow. If wood is stored
indoors, it will dry out and burn too quickly. It may also
bring some unwanted insects indoors for the winter.
Be sure your heating system has been professionally
inspected, adjusted and cleaned. Not only is a
poorly-maintained heating system less energy efficient, it
can break down, catch fire or become the source of carbon
monoxide during heating months. Exposure to this
odourless, tasteless, colourless gas can cause flu-like
symptoms and, in severe cases, lead to brain damage or
An improperly installed or maintained natural gas furnace,
water heater or other equipment could release carbon
monoxide into your home. Install carbon monoxide detectors
in sleeping areas and check them regularly to ensure they
are working properly.
Furnace air filters should be replaced regularly, so have
a ready supply handy. And the area around your furnace
should be open, clutter- and dust-free. Vacuum the furnace
vents in each room and floor regularly. If your furnace
has a built-in humidifier, be sure to clean and maintain
it over the winter.
A fireplace can be warm and cozy in cold weather, but it
will operate safely only if it was built correctly and is
well-maintained. If you use it often over the winter, have
your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned once a
year by a professional. Never leave a burning fire
unattended and never pour water over a fire. Use a fire
screen to prevent sparks from flying.
Power failures can and do occur. In winter, it's important
to have emergency supplies on hand that will help to keep
you warm -candles, matches, flashlights, blankets, food
that doesn't require much cooking, disposable plates and
cups. If you live in a rural area, a battery-operated
radio and fresh batteries may be the only way you can keep
in touch with the rest of the world.
When the power goes off:
Disconnect or turn off any motor driven electrical
equipment such as the water pump, refrigerator and oil
burner. If left connected, these may be damaged if there
is a surge of voltage when power is restored.
Don't empty your freezer. A fully-loaded freezer may keep
food frozen for up to two days. Never re-freeze food
that's gone soft.
Keep windows and doors closed to conserve what heat is
Keep pipes from freezing when the temperature drops by
leaving faucets slightly open. This won't work, however,
if the water supply comes from your own electric water
If the temperature in your home drops below 10C, consider
leaving and seeking refuge where there is a power supply.