Red Cross Tips for Preparing You and Your Home This Winter

Temperatures are cooler and many people have already turned the heat back on in their homes. The American Red Cross has steps people should follow as they get ready for cooler weather.

HOME HEATING SAFETY Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use. Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Other good steps to take to get one’s home ready for winter include:

  • Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house and they have fresh batteries. Winter storms can lead to power outages.
  • Insulate the home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
  • Winterize one’s vehicle.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit to have ready should winter storms hit. The kit should include a three-day supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries. Other things to include for the winter include:
  • Sand, rock salt or kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
  • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing for all household members, along with extra blankets.
  • An alternate way to heat the home, such as a fireplace, or wood or coal stove.

SPACE HEATERS With heating costs rising, many people are using alternate sources of heat to cut down on heating bills. The Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. Other safety tips include:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App at redcross.org/apps for heating safety and winter storm tips that are available in English and Spanish.

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