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Winter Household Safety Tips

With the winter weather here to stay, it can be worth knowing some of the more obscure dangers that might present themselves.

We reached out to the City of Yellowknife and the YK Fire Department for a few pointers on what to keep an eye on during the winter, and what people can do to go that extra mile to keep themselves safe.

Q: What are some causes of household fires that may be more common during the winter months?

A: The one major cause are chimney fires from furnaces, wood or pellet stoves. We recommend that before the winter months set in, you take the time to ensure that these chimneys are clean and ready for use. This way, when you start the fire or turn on the furnace you know that you are ready to safely warm your home.

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Q: Are buildups of carbon monoxide more common during the winter?

A: During the winter months’ buildups of carbon monoxide can be more common due to the equipment we are using to keep our houses warm. Furnaces, and wood or pellet stoves tend to be the leading cause. People tend not to use their furnaces or wood stoves in the summer months and as we come to the colder months this is when we use these devises to heat our homes. We recommend that you also keep the doors to the wood or pellet stoves closed and do not use open flame appliances (camping heaters, bbq’s) inside the home. Another area of concern is garages that have door access into the home. When we start our vehicle up and there is not enough ventilation in the garage, this could lead to the carbon monoxide coming onto the home.

Q: How can incidents like these be prevented?

A: Preventing buildup of carbon monoxide is possible. Be diligent and check around the chimneys to make sure there is no ice or snow buildup around it. This will allow the exhaust to vent to the outside rather then into your home. Have your furnace serviced annually by a trained professional who will make sure that everything is running properly and the chimney is clean. Furnaces require fresh air to operate correctly, check that the fresh air intake is clear and open. Make sure your chimney for your wood and pellet stoves is cleaned regularly to prevent the build up of creosote. Not only will doing this prevent carbon monoxide from entering into your home, it will help prevent chimney fires. Make sure if you are going to warm up your vehicle in a garage that you have the door into the house closed and the main garage door open to allow for air exchange. As well, there is usually a seal around the door from the home to the garage, check it to make sure there is no damage to it. This will prevent air from the garage from flowing back into the house.

Q: Are there any other winter household dangers that people should be aware of?

A: During the holidays we need to be mindful of our Christmas tree. There is nothing better than the smell of a Christmas tree in the living room. However, with that lovely smell comes the dangers of that tree drying up. We need to make sure there is always water in the tree holder to prevent it from drying out. Don’t leave candles unattended, even for a short period of time. It can only take a small amount of time for a fire to start. In addition, when cooking, always have a lid that will fit the pot you are cooking in, just in case you have a grease fire. Turn off the heat and use the lid on the pot to smother the fire. Do not put water on a grease fire. Check you smoke and CO alarm monthly, change the batteries (if required) and if the alarm goes off, get out, call 911 and wait for the fire department to tell you it is safe to go back inside.

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