Release date: December 7, 2020
Release number: 21-041

Release Details

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the COVID-19 pandemic getting worse, and winter’s colder months limiting outdoor activity, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges housebound consumers to be alert to hidden hazards in the home. Here are some life-saving tips:

Warm Up Safely

Planning to use a fireplace or space heater to keep warm?

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Keep material, such as curtains, sofas, beds, clothes and papers at least three feet away from space heaters.

  • Have fireplace flues and chimneys and other fuel-burning appliances, such as your furnace, inspected by a professional before each heating season. 

  • Always plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never plug a space heater into a power strip. Overloaded powers strips can catch fire. 

Light up Safely

If a winter storm knocks out your lights:

  • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns, rather than candles to light your home. 

  • If you do use candles, never leave burning candles unattended.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Other Hazards 

  • If you are planning to clear snow with a snow blower, NEVER leave the machine running in an enclosed area, such as a garage.  The exhaust contains poisonous CO, which can kill in minutes.

  • Stop the engine, and use a long stick to unclog wet snow and debris from the machine.  Do not use your hands to unclog a snow blower. 

  • Portable generators must be operated outside only.  Keep generators at least 20 feet away from the house.  Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed, or on the porch close to the house.

  • Make sure to have working CO alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.  Test the alarm each month, and replace the batteries every year. 

  • Have a professional check your fuel-burning appliances, including your furnace, to protect against CO. 

  • See our video on generator safety tips here.

Use Smoke Alarms and Keep Them Functional

  • Protect your family by installing working smoke alarms on every floor and inside every bedroom. 

  • Change batteries in smoke alarms every year, unless the alarms have sealed 10-year batteries.  Replace your alarm at the end of its service life; 10 years for smoke alarms, 7 years for combination smoke/CO alarms.  Test the alarm once a month.

Have Our COVID 19 Home Safety Checklists Handy

  • Keep cleaning products, laundry packets and medicines in their original bottles, locked up, and away from children.

  • Ensure that high-powered magnets are kept away from children at all times.  Swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines, causing serious adverse health effects, lifelong injuries or death.

  • Stairs should be well-lighted, free from tripping hazards and with a secure hand rail. 

  • Never climb a ladder alone.  Ask for assistance when installing decorations or taking them down.

Check for Recalls

  • Check for recalled products in your home.

  • Fill out and send in registration cards that come with new products, or register your product on the firm’s website so that companies know how to contact you if there is a recall.

  • Think you have an unsafe product or an incident where someone was injured by a product?  Report it to CPSC at SaferProducts.gov.

Remember, follow these winter safety tips during COVID-19, and the life you save may be a loved one or your own.  

For more information, visit www.cpsc.gov.

Media Contact

Please use the below phone number for all media requests.

Phone: (301) 504-7908
Spanish: (301) 504-7800

View CPSC contacts for specific areas of expertise