(NC) Many of us like to make our homes cozy retreats during the chilly winter season, stockpiling blankets and firewood. But another important way to prepare for spending so much time indoors is to make sure our homes are safe and healthy places to live. Here are some common risks that could be present and what you can do about them.
Carbon monoxide. This gas causes illness and can lead to death. Carbon monoxide can be present in your home or cottage at any time of the year, but the risk is greater in winter months because homes in Canada are usually heated by furnaces, wood stoves, water heater or boilers and other appliances that run on fuels — devices that can release the gas if they are not installed correctly or malfunction. Protect yourself with a carbon monoxide alarm and by properly ventilating your home.
Radon. This is an invisible, radioactive gas that causes lung cancer and comes from uranium in the ground. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to take a simple and inexpensive test that can be done by using a do-it-yourself kit or by a certified measurement professional. If the level in your home is high, it can be fixed at an affordable cost. A radon mitigation system can be installed in less than a day and in most homes will reduce the level by more than 80 per cent for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.
Wood smoke. Whether your wood stove is your main source of heat, a back-up or a fun way to add some warm ambiance, wood smoke contains a number of pollutants that can be harmful to your health. You can help reduce the environmental and health impacts of wood smoke by maintaining your stove, cleaning your chimney and using your dampers. Choose dry, seasoned wood, let it breathe and burn smaller pieces of wood. If renovating, consider switching your heating source or purchasing a low-emission stove.
Find more information at www.canada.ca/radon.