April 11, 2007 at 6:06 PM CDT - Updated July 2 at 6:15 AM
Use these tips to help you and your family stay safe and comfortable this winter:
Carbon Monoxide Detection: Xcel Energy strongly recommends annual inspections of your natural gas appliances as the key defense against carbon monoxide poisoning. Appliance inspections are vitally important because they can determine and correct the source of the problem if it exists. Xcel Energy also encourages the use of a carbon monoxide detector in the home on each floor with sleeping rooms. Detectors identify traces of carbon monoxide in the home and sound an alarm when carbon monoxide is detected. The most effective detectors have a battery-backup system and include a memory function that records and indicates the highest concentration levels detected. Install, test and maintain the detector according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Fireplaces: A roaring fire can drain your home's supply of fresh air. Either use glass doors on the fireplace or open a window slightly to supplement the air supply to the fireplace.
Portable heaters: Make sure children and pets can't touch or knock over a heater. To avoid electric shock, don't use an electrical heater near the shower or bathtub. Avoid using fuel-burning heaters in enclosed rooms to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Roof and Tree Raking: Stay more than 10 feet away from power lines when knocking snow off your roof or trees. Accidental contact with power lines can injure or kill.
Hypothermia: People who are frail, elderly or ill are most susceptible to cold and hypothermia -- a dangerous drop in body temperature. Keep warm by dressing in layers and using blankets. Maintain household temperature at a comfortable level.
Fire Prevention: Make sure your holiday lights are Underwriters' Laboratory (UL) approved. Always unplug indoor holiday lights before going to bed or leaving home, and do not use lights designed for indoor use outdoors or outdoor lights indoors. Keep cords away from children and pets, and never place cords under rugs or carpets.