Winter Safety in the home tips
Our home should be the one place we feel completely safe and secure, but accidents can, and do, happen. We’ve listed some essential winter home safety tips to keep you and the family safe throughout the colder months ahead.
Keep your home warm
The colder weather can pose a risk for more vulnerable members of the family. Those over the age of 65, under the age of five, or with health conditions may need more help keeping warm this winter.
The NHS recommends keeping your home heated to at least 18C for those over 65, those who aren’t very mobile or are unwell. They recommend maintaining a temperature of between 16C and 20C for babies.
Central heating systems and boilers will naturally get a lot more use during winter months as the temperatures drops and you try to keep the home comfortable, so it’s vital to ensure that your boiler and appliances are safe to use.
Annual servicing and checks can help ensure your boiler is working efficiently and safely.
Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be a very serious, and in some cases fatal, consequence of a faulty boiler. According to the NHS, around 200 people are admitted to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning every year and that leads to around 60 deaths.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, nausea, tiredness, headaches and stomach pains. Symptoms can appear to be similar to food poisoning or flu which makes it difficult to detect. If you suffer from similar symptoms seasonally, when you use your central heating more regularly, or your family and pets also become ill, this can be an indication that you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
A fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarm can save your life so ensure you have one installed in your home and that it’s working properly. The UK Fire Service recommends you check the battery regularly, replacing when necessary, and they say to never remove the smoke alarm for other purposes.
Protect your pipes
A drop in temperature can lead to burst pipes if correct measures aren’t taken. Pipes on exterior walls or in unheated areas such as garages, basements, outhouses, and attics pose the greatest risk of freezing – ensure they are sufficiently insulated to reduce the risk of them freezing or bursting.
Electrical appliances including blankets and heaters are used more frequently during winter and can prove hazardous if they are faulty, are not turned off, or are positioned dangerously. Ensure electrical items are turned off when not in use, and make sure they are in full working order.
Turning your home into a winter wonderland for the festive season can also present risks. Testing Christmas lights is essential for winter home safety; ensure all lights are in good working order and remember to give them a break too by turning them off overnight and when you’re not there to enjoy them.
Avoid overloading your sockets and, if possible, minimise the use of extension leads and adapters – not only can these create an electrical risk, but they can also be a tripping hazard, so be sure to tuck them away.
Snow and ice safety
Snow and ice present a slipping hazard for all of the family, but this can be particularly dangerous for older people for whom a fall can be far more serious.
Clear a safe path in front of your home if you need to leave the house – RoSPA emphasises the need to not make conditions worse by creating a sheer icy surface. And remember to wear sturdy footwear with a good grip.
If you are elderly, consider asking a friend or family member to run errands for you to minimise your need to go out in icy conditions.
Staying safe on the roads
It’s just as important to stay safe on the roads as it is to focus on winter safety in the home. If you’re venturing out during bad weather, take a look at our road safety tips first.
Advice from Thompsons on winter safety in the home
Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Regular checks on your boiler and electrical appliances by a qualified electrician or plumber can help to keep you safe, especially during winter months when you may be using them more frequently.
“A faulty boiler or appliance can result in serious injury or, in the worst cases, death. It is important to maintain the condition of your appliances and, crucially, check regularly that your fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarm is fully functional in order to minimise the risk of injury.
“If you are injured or have carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the negligence of your landlord, an engineer or a product supplier, then you may be eligible for compensation and should seek formal legal advice.”
If you have suffered a personal injury that wasn’t your fault this winter, learn whether you’re eligible to claim by clicking below.