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Drew: Staying safe inside during the winter cold

Samuetta Hill Drew

People from other geographical parts of our country have often asked me, “Does it get cold in Birmingham?” My reply is always “Yes, typically in January and now even February.”

They seem to be surprised at my response, but those of us who live here understand. It can get very cold here and one of our biggest winter threats is power outages due to ice on trees limbs (remember Birmingham is the Tree City), which results often into downed power lines, especially in rural and older communities. With this posing one of our major safety winter threats, many citizens in our region of the country have taken some winter preparedness precautions. Let’s review some of them to make sure the necessary safety steps are addressed as one attempts to stay warm inside their homes.

  • There are some basic steps which should be taken annually. They include winterizing your home by installing weather stripping, insulation and storm windows (if applicable). Also insulate outdoor water lines. Clean gutters and repair any roof leaks.
  • When it comes to your heating system make sure you have a professional check it to make sure it’s clean and working properly. They should also check to make sure it’s properly ventilated. Make sure you have changed the filters for 2019.
  • Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned every year. The last thing you want to do is start a fire, if your power is off, to heat your house and the fireplace has not been checked or cleaned. Your home may go up in flames because it is not uncommon for birds to build nests in fireplaces or for debris from trees falling inside like small branches and leaves.  The fire will spark these items resulting in a home fire.
  • The same precautions apply to wood burning stoves, especially if it wasn’t professionally installed. A professional will make sure the stove wasn’t installed to a single-wall flue. Once the stove gets hot enough, the wall is going to start to burn resulting possibly in a home fire.
  • Do not burn any pressure treated wood in your fireplace or wood burning stove. It has been soaked in chemicals that could make you sick or result in death. Neither are good options!

It is important to read all instructions relative to alternative heating such as space heaters. Make sure you pay attention to even small details because Keeping an Eye on Safety remains important as you attempt to stay warm inside during cold winter weather.