By Marian Nanney, ESF-8 Response Program Assistant, DHEC Office of Public Health Preparedness
While the holidays may be over, winter has just begun. It’s important to stay safe outside during inclement weather like ice and snow storms, but remember that there can be health hazards indoors too.
Indoor air can be up to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air, and the sources of indoor air pollution can be fire and safety hazards. Here are some easy steps to eliminate some common hazards and improve the air quality inside your home to keep your family healthy and safe.
Inspect your chimney.
If your home has a fireplace, inspect the chimney at the beginning and end of each fireplace season, clean the flue liner and repair any cracks. Periodic maintenance will ensure that you and your children are not breathing in harmful air pollutants which can build up in the chimney. It may also reveal a need for repairs which, done in a timely manner, will prevent the chimney from collapsing or catching fire.
Install smoke detectors.
Protect yourself and your family by installing smoke detectors throughout your home and replacing the batteries twice each year. If you have a house fire in the middle of the night, you might not be awakened by the smell of smoke before hazardous smoke and flames have traveled through portions of your home. Smoke detectors can help prevent injuries and smoke inhalation by alerting you as soon as possible.
Install a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.
If you have a gas furnace, stove or water heater, then you are at risk for carbon monoxide buildup in your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas which can cause fatal poisoning in homes. Buy a carbon monoxide detector at your local home improvement store, test it once per month and replace the batteries twice each year.
Test Your Home for Radon
January is Radon Action Month and it’s a great reminder to test your home for radon. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can get into your home through foundation cracks, plumbing and construction joints, and it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer next to tobacco use. You can get a free radon test kit by visiting www.scdhec.gov/radon.
While we can’t always predict when winter weather will force us indoors for long periods of time, we can do a great deal to reduce our exposure to indoor air pollutants and rid our homes of fire and safety hazards before winter weather strikes.
For more information on how to best prepare yourself and your family for a winter weather emergency, visit: