With winter well upon us, as we enjoy the beautiful snow and the crisp air and the happy holidays, it’s important to remember many of the dangers we’ll be facing throughout the season. The cold weather can present dangers both within the home, and without. Being aware of these potential dangers, and taking action to prevent these dangers before they appear before you, is crucial to remaining safe throughout the year.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Your Heating System

After a hot summer and a mild fall, winter tends to be the time where households can’t resist the allure of turning the heating back on to keep the house comfortable. Home heating systems, however, are one of the leaders in producing carbon monoxide gas, a poisonous gas with no noticeable color or smell, called the “silent killer” by the NFPA. Gas & Oil furnaces produce carbon monoxide that can make those living in the home sick, or even die. Being aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is important year round, but winter is when the risks are at their highest.

Carbon monoxide’s discovery is credited to Joseph Priestly, an English chemist of the 18th century. Through his research, he discovered that carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide were two different gases. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs due to a disruption in the respiratory system caused by carbon monoxide. Normal breathing results in oxygen being transferred from the lungs to red blood cells, which bring oxygenated blood throughout the body. However, when carbon monoxide is inhaled, this process is disrupted. Carbon monoxide binds to the cell, and doesn’t transfer oxygenated blood throughout the body. Cells can’t obtain oxygen, energy production decreases, which can cause illness, and even eventual death if the victim isn’t oxygenated.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. In order to best prevent this horrible illness, make sure to have your furnace inspected every year, especially before you turn it on. This can help to ensure that carbon monoxide poisoning will not occur when the heat is turned on. But failings in gas and oil furnaces can happen anytime, even after the furnace has been inspected. In order to monitor the house for carbon monoxide at all times, having plentiful Carbon Monoxide detectors is key to ensuring safety in the home during the winter. A carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm when carbon monoxide is detected. Since most symptoms don’t set in until you’ve been exposed to a lot of carbon monoxide, it’s important to detect it early to prevent sickness.

Freezing Pipes and Water Damage

As temperatures drop, plumbing systems are also at a major danger of failure during the winter. Pipes can freeze, which isn’t just a disruption to a water system in the house, but a major risk. Water expands in volume when it freezes, and this expansion can create as much as 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch, which can rupture pipes. Once a pipe is burst, hundreds of gallons of water can be released from the pipe, not only causing an increase to the water bill, but causing immense water damage to a home, which can cost thousands in repairs and risk destroying homes and priceless family heirlooms. Instead of waiting for these pipe bursts to occur and dealing with the damage that comes with it, investing in a water leak detector is a much more cost effective option.

Water leak detectors are systems that can detect changes in water flow within the pipes of a house. Since pipes in residential homes aren’t always visible to users, it can be difficult to notice leaks before it’s too late.

A mechanical water leak detector keeps track of water flowing by physically measuring the flow of water with a turbine. An ultrasonic water leak detector keeps track of the water flow by sending ultrasonic waves in both directions of the pipe to check on any fluctuations in the water usage. Both of these systems will report when there is an issue to the homeowner. By having a water leak detector, the damage caused by frozen pipes bursting can be prevented all together. Though detectors don’t prevent pipes from freezing, they provide ample opportunity to prevent damage. Water leak sensors with temperature-sensing technology can help homeowners keep an eye on how cold pipes are getting, allowing users to easily check the temperatures of pipes and potentially turn off the water main if there’s ever any fear that temperatures in and around the pipes could potentially cause water to freeze.

The Wintertime Spike of Home Invasions

Burglaries are a constant concern for many homeowners, but it’s important to remember that the most common time of year burglaries occur is in the winter. It makes sense – many residents take vacations during the winter to avoid the cold weather, leaving their homes vacant, or just the simple fact that the sun sets a lot sooner, giving burglars the cover of darkness before residents return home from work. The best deterrence for home invasions is to have a proper security system set up and armed whenever you’re away from the house.

In order to best deter burglaries, it’s important to have every aspect of your home security system active. Door and window sensors should be implemented in order to set off the alarm and notify you when a door or window is opened while the system is armed. Security cameras, both indoors and outdoors, provide both active deterrence, as burglars won’t want to be anywhere near a camera, and active footage that can be accessed through the system’s DVR, or in many systems, directly from a mobile app. Flood lights can be installed to remove the cover of dark so many burglars desire, especially motion sensor activated lights. With a home security system, burglars can be deterred from ever considering a home break-in.

The winter time can be a frightening time of year for many. Icy roads, crowded stores, and cold and flu can make it seem impossible to overcome. This is why it’s important as ever to ensure that your home is safe place during these times. With proper security measures, carbon monoxide detectors, and leak detectors, the major home dangers of the season can be taken care of, allowing your home to truly be as safe as it possibly can to weather the rest of the winter.