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Winter safety indoors

Featuring content from MediResource Inc.

Electric blankets: A blanket is a symbol of cozy warmth. Take it up a notch by adding electricity, and you have quick heat to warm you through the coldest of winter nights. Most electric blankets are safe, but follow directions and warnings carefully and pay attention to details about care, washing, and precautions for certain individuals. People with nerve damage may experience burns because they can't sense when a blanket or heating pad has become too hot. To prevent injury, only use electric blankets or heating pads to initially warm your bed, and then remove them before you tuck in for the night. Steer clear of secondhand electric blankets – previous owners may have discarded them because they functioned poorly or became unsafe. Although it seems like common sense, it bears repeating: never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket.

Humidifiers: Vaporizers and humidifiers moisten the dry air of many homes each winter. These whirring water machines help to prevent dry skin, scratchy throats, congestion, and nosebleeds. They also soothe symptoms of colds and the flu. But since humidifiers and vaporizers mix electricity and water, use them with care and caution. Steam humidifiers boil away any possible mould or bacteria from the water, but the heat created can pose a burn risk. A cool-mist humidifier relies on an agitating motor to create moisture. Without the boiling heat, you need to diligently maintain and clean these humidifiers to prevent buildup of mould and bacteria. Steam humidifiers also need to be drained and cleaned to prevent standing water from breeding bacteria.

Fires and smoke: Ahhh, the comforts and romance of a roaring fire. A wood-burning fire crackles, sizzles, and warms a room right up. One not-so-cozy or romantic side effect of wood burning is that the smoke can emit over 100 pollutants into your home! Wood smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat; trigger headaches, nausea, and dizziness; and cause flare-ups of respiratory conditions like asthma. If you can't put out your love for wood fires, be safe about it. Be sure your fireplace or wood stove meets the emissions standards of the Canadian Standards Association. Allow proper ventilation and burn smaller pieces of wood. Only keep enough wood indoors to burn for the day. Otherwise, store wood outside in a place where it will stay dry. To choose wood, bang two logs together. If it makes a loud, hollow crack, it's good. A dull thud means wood is wet.

Carbon monoxide in the home: More accidental carbon monoxide poisonings happen during the winter months because of increased use of furnaces, fireplaces, and other heating units. Risk runs high during power outages since people sometimes turn to alternative heat sources that produce high levels of carbon monoxide. If you haven't already, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Check space heaters and furnaces to be sure they're out of reach of children, babies, pets, and areas where someone might accidentally bump into them. And never leave a car running inside of a garage – even if the door is open.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Winter-Weather-Well-being