CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Wintry weather often comes as no surprise.
But sometimes, we can be caught off-guard if we’re not prepared in the event of a power outage or car failure during very cold temperatures.
According to Baruch Fertel, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, emergency preparedness is especially important for those who rely on electric medical devices.
“It’s important if people have medical devices that need power, they’ve made arrangements with the electric company or they have some way that they can power that device if the power goes out,” he said.
It’s best to have your home’s heating system inspected by a professional once a year – just to make sure everything is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
Dr. Fertel said it’s always a good idea to have basic, non-perishable, food items on hand, as well as blankets, layers, and if necessary, a safe place to go.
And while portable devices can be helpful, he said you have to be careful not to have portable heaters or open gas burning in the house, because it can lead to carbon monoxide exposure, which can be fatal.
“There is a very high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – we see this every year, unfortunately, and it almost invariably always has to do with a space heater, or something because the heat was out,” said Dr. Fertel.
“It is imperative that these devices be properly ventilated and are safe to use inside.” There are also risks for fire and for burns when using a space heater, so they should never be used around children.
And if you need to run a generator, never use it indoors or in an enclosed area.
Dr. Fertel said risks for fires or carbon monoxide poisoning are always highest during cold weather months, so having working detectors is a must.
“Always make sure you have a working smoke detector and a working carbon monoxide detector.
There are these combination products – put them in the house, they save lives.”
And don’t forget about your car. Dr. Fertel advises keeping an extra pair of gloves, a hat, and a coat in the trunk of your car, just in case of an emergency that lands you on the side of the road during bad weather.