With the cold winter months here, The Naperville Fire Department wants to help reduce your risk of winter fires and other hazards. First and foremost, please be sure to test your smoke and CO alarms to be sure they are in working order.

Most of the U.S. is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules. Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.

If you have space heaters in your home, remember that space heaters need ‘space.’ They should be kept 3 feet from anything that can burn. Make sure to turn them off and unplug them when you leave the room/house and don’t ever run them while you are sleeping. Be sure to have furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.

Even though it is now a law to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, it cannot be assumed that everyone is familiar with the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning. Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up. If your CO alarm goes off, immediately move to a fresh air location and call 911 for help. If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries or other trouble indicators.

Stay safe, stay warm and happy holidays to you and yours, from the Naperville Fire Department!