How to Avoid Cold Weather Injuries and Illness

The arctic air of January has hit Massachusetts and families around the state are working to stay warm, safe and avoid injury. It’s essential this time of year to be informed and make plans for your home heating system, water pipes and going outdoors. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck offer these tips:


Oil Heat Systems

  • If you heat your home with oil, have a qualified oil heat service technician inspect and clean your system annually to remove soot build-up and ensure safe operation.
  • Avoid replacing or repairing parts of your furnace or oil heating tank yourself. This could cause personal injury and damage your home. Contact a professional.
  • Ask your oil company about Automatic Delivery to avoid disrupting your heating service. The company will use a computerized system that signal when tank volumes are low.

Space Heaters

  • One in every seven space heater fires in the past five years has resulted in a death, according to the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office. If you use a space heater, be safe. Keep the space heater three feet from any person, pet or flammable material.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off if you are going to sleep.

Wood-burning Stoves

  • Clean ashes from your wood-burning stove in between use to avoid clogging the vents. Avoid injury by disposing ashes in a metal container away from your home.
  • Keep three feet away from wood-burning stoves to avoid burn injuries.
  • Only burn wood in your wood-burning stove. Never burn household garbage, cardboard, plastics, foam or other materials.

Protecting Your Water Pipes

  • To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation, such as newspapers with plastic to keep out the moisture.
  • Allow a small amount of warm water to trickle from a faucet near pipes you are concerned will burst. This allows the water to keep moving so it cannot freeze.
  • Learn how to shut off your water valve if it bursts.
  • Purchase a freeze alarm for your pipes. These can be purchased online for less than $100.

Keeping Safe Outdoors in the Cold

  • Minimize time outdoors, especially for the elderly and young children.
  • Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing rather than a single-layer of thick clothing. Cover all areas with mittens, hats and scarves. Try to wear water repellent fabrics.
  • Hypothermia only occurs in extreme cases, but watch out for signs of shivering, memory loss, disorientation and exhaustion. If these symptoms are present or the person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Also watch out for frostbite. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in the fingers, toes, the tip of the nose and other areas. Seek medical attention immediately for these symptoms.

Click for more safety tips on other home heating devices from the Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck.


The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck are experienced in handling cases involving snow and ice accidents and falls. If you have a question regarding a snow and ice case or another injury, contact us today at (617) 723-7676 or use our form.