Indoor Winter Household Hazards
Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us are not ready for its arrival. If your patients are prepared for the hazards of winter, you will both be more likely to stay safe and healthy when it comes.
Many families need home care staff’s help to prepare their homes for the winter season. A little prevention will make each visit safer, and easier on your patients and all of their caregivers.Prevention plans can include making referrals to local power companies or energy assistance programs for tips on safely heating homes and home safety checks, monitoring inside temperatures, and devising home emergency plans in case a power failure occurs.
Clients should be instructed to eat well-balanced meals, avoid alcoholic beverages, and drink warm beverages.
In extremely cold temperatures, heating systems may be pushed beyond their capacity to maintain warmth in all resident rooms. Proper insulation will help, but do not restrict or block outdoor access.
Your patients’ homes are also your workplace, it’s important they are taking precautions for the winter months.Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous. Stay safe and healthy by planning ahead.
Take These Steps for Your Home
Many people prefer to remain indoors in the winter, but staying inside is no guarantee of safety. Take these steps to keep your home safe and warm during the winter months.
- Winterize the home.
- Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
- Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
- Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
- Check your heating systems.
- Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
- Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
- Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
- Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies.
- Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
- Learn symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Portable space heaters have been the cause of accidental fires. Any heating device, other than a central heating plant, needs to be designed and installed so that it will not ignite combustible material. Make the patient and their caregivers aware of the dangers of these units, but if they insist, be sure things like OXYGEN and curtains are no where near it!If a heating device is fuel fired, it is to be connected to a vent or chimney and must operate by taking air for combustion directly from the outside. It also shall be designed and installed to provide for complete separation of the combustion system from the atmosphere of the occupied area.
Any heating device shall have safety features to immediately stop the flow of fuel and shut down the equipment in case of either excessive temperatures or ignition failure.
Carbon Monoxide – The Deadly Winter HazardCarbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning can happen at any time of the year, but the danger is greater during the winter when doors and windows stay closed and fireplaces, gas heaters, or other fuel burning appliances are in use. In addition, people can also be exposed to deadly CO levels when “warming up” their cars in garages or keeping them running when stuck in snow.
Fact Sheet: How to Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Several factors lead to increased concerns about mold during the winter months. Moisture conditions indoors can lead to the growth of molds and mildews. While forced air heating systems make indoor air drier overall during the winter months, certain areas of the home may experience intensified levels of humidity because of a lack of ventilation.
Chemical and Environmental Exposure
Fact Sheet: Preventing Asbestos Exposure in the Home