I'm ending our month theme today with a few last things you should get done before winter really kicks in for the year: checking smoke detectors and doing what you can to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Winter can be a dangerous time when it comes to carbon monoxide. In a report last year, the CDC found the highest amount of people going to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning is in January. This is mostly thanks to improper ventilation for gas furnaces, ovens, vehicles, and portable generators. And it's not a matter to take lightly. In fact, carbon monoxide is considered a "silent killer." The CDC also reports about 20,000 people annually go to the ER because of carbon monoxide poisoning each year, and about 500 people die from it annually.
Now that I've gotten your attention, there are some really simple things to keep you safe. First, purchase or check the carbon monoxide detector in your home. 24 states, including my home state Illinois, have some sort of law regarding installing detectors. There are various companies that make detectors, just be sure it can run on a battery for back up. And since you spend most of your time at night, it's important to have detectors in the bedroom.
There are ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. First, your oven and gas furnace. If you have a gas oven or furnace, make sure it has proper ventilation. And if you have a gas oven, but electric heating, do not use the oven to heat your home if you run out of power. If you just moved into a home, it would be wise to have a professional look at both to make sure there is proper ventilation and maintenance in your new dwelling.
The chimney is another big culprit to cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Its hard to tell if you have a blocked chimney, and the there a several poisonous gases that emit from the fire. If you have a wood burning chimney, creosote is a dangerous thing to look out for too. If you do not clean your chimney occasionally to knock out the residual tar, it can cause a chimney fire.
I hate getting into a cold car as the next girl, but if you need to heat up your vehicle, be sure there's proper ventilation. That means it has to come out of the garage, or at least have the garage door open, when warming up and running.
And lastly, there's the gas generator. My new home was hit by a terrible ice storm a couple years ago. So needless to say, a lot of people recently invested in at home generators. But by burning gas, a generator can create a lot of poisonous exhaust. So unless it's actually installed into your home with proper ventilation, it needs to be as far away from your home as possible.
But along with a carbon monoxide detector, you also need to check your smoke detectors. With the additional lights and ornaments we install during the holidays, a spark can easily turn into tragedy. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are more than a half million winter fires each year. Those fires annually cause $3 billion in property loss, 1,900 deaths, and nearly 8,000 injuries. Most local news organizations use our "fall back" of daylight saving time as a reminder to check smoke detectors. So if you haven't yet, you need to now. Twice a year, you should test the detector and change out the batteries. Also use it as an opportunity to make a fire & emergency plan with your family.
So I hope you feel that you are better informed about the legit dangers that can happen during the winter months. None of the issues above should be taken lightly, and have taken the lives of others. It's been fun to show you the great ways you can prepare for the long winter nights coming upon us. But, I'm really looking forward to sharing some great DIY, green gift ideas for the holiday season. In fact one blog friend, Roxy, has jumped on board and already published a great post about making home made soap as a gift!
Oh and if you'd like a preview to what I'm thinking about trying out, check out my pintrest board. I've even posted a board that's dedicated to the Holidays (what I like to call "Festivus"), so be sure to check it out.