Following a few key precautions can help your family stay safe when spending time inside. 

Winter is prime time to cozy up indoors and enjoy the warmth of your family home. But some options for heating your home present significant risk. 

“If you are bringing a space heater into your home, it is important to read and follow the instructions and use the right kind of fuel to make the heater run,” says Libby Anvender, MHA, community education instructor and child passenger safety technician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Not adhering to these guidelines could ignite a fire or release dangerous fumes into the air.”

Specifically, carbon monoxide, which often goes undetected, could lead to death when it is in a home for a long period of time. Small children are high risk for significant injury or death as a result of breathing in the dangerous gas. 

“Children are the first to be impacted by carbon monoxide because they breathe more quickly and inhale more gas in proportion to their weight,” says Lindsay Clukies, MD, Washington University pediatric emergency medicine physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Having a working carbon monoxide and smoke detector in the home is absolutely critical to identify the presence of this odorless, tasteless and colorless gas.” 

Your Safety Checklist

To ensure that your space stays safe, remember to:

  • Choose the right equipment. If you are bringing a space heater into the home, be sure that it is specifically for indoor use. 
  • Do not use extension cords. Instead, plug space heaters directly into the wall. 
  • Never leave a space heater unattended, especially around children and pets. If you are going to bed or leaving the house, turn the space heater off. 
  • Set up your space heater strategically. Place it on a flat, hard, nonflammable surface.
  • Use fireplaces with caution. Have them checked annually and make sure the flue is open.

Create space for flammable items. Keep anything that can catch fire at least three feet away from any type of heating equipment, including furnace, space heater, fireplace and other devices.
For more information about home safety, call Safety Stop at 314.454.KIDS (5437).