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Staying Safe and Healthy as Temperatures Drop in PA

January 21, 2022 10:00 AM
By: PEMA

Three children sledding in the snow outside

​As temperatures throughout the commonwealth reach seasonal lows, we're urging Pennsylvanians to prepare for the impacts that winter weather and extreme cold temperatures can have on their daily lives.

Be Fire Safe When Heating Your Home

“When temperatures dip, people naturally want to stay warm and often turn to supplemental heating devices like space heaters and fireplaces,” Acting State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook said. “People have to understand the dangers posed by the unsafe usage of heating appliances, and how to mitigate the risks—which are both real, and serious.”

Heating is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and the third leading cause of home fire deaths according to the National Fire Protection Association. Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment per year in 2014-2018, accounting for 14% of all reported home fires during this time. These fires resulted in annual losses of 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage.

Fire Safety Tips

Be Fire Safe PA in the wintertime with these fire prevention tips:

  • Keep children, along with anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or space heater.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

Buid a Wintertime Emergency Kit

Wintertime in Pennsylvania often features snow, blizzards, freezing rain, sleet, ice storms, blustery winds, and frigid temperatures.

“Weather conditions can rapidly change with little warning,” PEMA Director Randy Padfield said. “Avoiding travel is always your safest option. But if you’re unable to delay travel when you know the weather could make it difficult or dangerous, monitor your local forecast so you know what to expect.”

“Keep a small stash of water and food in your car, and never travel without important safety items like extra blankets and coats as well as essential medicines and baby or pet supplies.” Padfield added.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress This Season

The winter season can be stressful, as increases of respiratory illnesses occur and the pandemic surges, there are healthy ways to cope with the stress of the season and pandemic.

Healthy ways to cope with stress include:

  • Taking care of yourself by eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and giving yourself breaks
  • Talking to others about how you feel
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol
  • Taking breaks from items causing you stress, such as the news and social media
  • Recognizing when you need professional help

Being active during the winter has a number of health benefits. A few ways to be active this winter include walking, online fitness classes, and other exercise at home.


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