Author Offers Tips on Home Heating, Winter Driving

John Myre, author of Live Safely in a Dangerous World and editor of the "Safety Times" newsletter, says there is never a season when on- and off-the-job safety is not of paramount importance. But because winter offers its own hazards and here we are at the last weekend in November, now is a good time to have the following 10 tips in mind for protecting your home and family:

  • Have your heating systems inspected by a professional before the start of each heating season. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires associated with home heating equipment result in about 45,000 fires and more than 200 fatalities across America every year.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, outside sleeping areas, and in rooms with space heaters. Put carbon monoxide detectors outside sleeping areas, and in rooms with a fireplace or stove, unvented gas or liquid heaters, or a furnace.
  • If you have an electric heater: - Do not curl the cord and do not bury it under carpeting. The heat from the cord could start a fire. - If the cord overheats, stop using the heater and have it serviced. - Don't use an extension cord. If you must use one temporarily, be sure it is marked with a power rating at least equal to the heater. - Periodically check for fraying or splitting wires. Do not try to repair a broken heater yourself. Take it to a qualified service center.
  • Avoid using kerosene heaters. They are illegal in many areas. If you must use one: make sure you use the correct fuel; follow the manufacturer's directions exactly; never refill a kerosene heater when it is hot; and never fill it indoors.
  • Have the chimney inspected by a certified sweep at the start of each heating season. If you regularly use the fireplace or stove more than four times a week, or use soft or green woods, have it inspected more often.

Because winter presents a special set of driving challenges that require careful preparation and extra attention, consider these tips, Myre says:

  • Do not put extra weight in your trunk. It may help traction, but it can also make it harder to steer and stop.
  • Inflate tires at the proper level. Low pressure can affect steering.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full for emergencies, and to prevent gas line freeze-up.
  • Carry a survival kit. Include a cell phone; warm clothes, blankets and boots; food and water; snow shovel; first aid kit; jumper cables with safety tips, and splash goggles; flashlight and extra batteries; traction mats, or sand or cat litter.
  • Check weather conditions before you leave, and continue to stay informed when traveling in potentially adverse weather.
  • Myre offers about 3,000 more safety tips in Live Safely in a Dangerous World and the reproducible articles available at his Web site. The above tips are excerpted, with permission, from "Safety Times": www.safetytimes.com.

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