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Tips for staying safe in cold weather

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to be alert for fire and carbon monoxide (CO) hazards during the colder winter months ahead. The hazards, while present in all populations, disproportionately affect African Americans who have the highest rate of fire deaths, nearly double the overall rate in the population. Additionally, African Americans account for 22% of CO deaths related to portable generators, or nearly 170 from 2010 to 2020.

Please follow these CPSC safety tips to keep your family safe:

Water heater

The CPSC estimates that portable heaters are involved in around 1,700 fires per year, resulting in around 80 deaths and 160 injuries per year.

Keep flammable materials at least three feet away.

Always plug heaters directly into a wall socket and never into a power strip, to avoid overload and fire.

Space heaters can also pose a risk of hyperthermia (overheating) to consumers, especially children, the disabled, and the elderly. Hyperthermia can lead to death. DO NOT allow space heaters to operate unsupervised in a confined space around babies or people with reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Working smoke and CO alarms save lives!

Install smoke alarms on each floor of the house and inside each bedroom.

CO alarms should be placed on each level of the home, outside of sleeping areas.

Test alarms monthly to ensure they are working.

Replace batteries at least once a year or install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with 10-year sealed batteries.

Furnaces, Fireplaces and Chimneys

Have flues, chimneys and furnaces inspected by a professional before the heating season.


From 2010 to 2020, the CPSC estimates that more than 700 people died from CO poisoning associated with generators, more than 50 in 2020.

Use portable generators outdoors only and place them at least 20 feet from the house. Never use a generator inside a house, basement, shed or garage.

Use flashlights instead of candles

During power outages, use battery-operated flashlights or lanterns rather than candles to light the house. If you use candles, never leave them burning unattended.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission