Stay safe when heating rooms in your home. Local fire departments report an uptick in families using space heaters to keep rooms warm. Be caution when using space heaters, not to cover them with flammable material, urges Portland Fire and Rescue.

Carbon monoxide 

Alternative sources of fuel or electricity for heating or cooking can cause carbon monoxide to build up — in a home, garage, or camper — and to poison the people and animals inside. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide, get to fresh air immediately, and call 9-1-1.

Here are some basic safe home heating tips:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector
  • Test your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms
  • Have any furnace or chimney inspected and serviced by a professional
  • Never use the oven to heat the home
  • Don’t leave fires unattended
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave
  • If you smell gas, leave and call the gas company or fire department.

Many agencies, including Multnomah County, can help people who struggle to afford their winter heating bill. Contact 2-1-1 info to find agencies that can help with heating bills. Multnomah County also offers a weatherization program for low-income families who want to make their homes more energy efficient or to have a furnace inspected.


Snow: Property owners or tenants are responsible for shoveling the snow and removing ice from in front of their homes and businesses. Check in with neighbors who might need a hand. Some elderly home owners or people with disabilities may have physical challenges or risk injury in the snow and ice.

Downed Trees: Keep trees trimmed away from your home. These could break during wind storms or under heavy snow or ice and could damage your home.  Report downed trees to the city where you live. In Portland dial 503-823-T-R-E-E

Don’t Slip: Winter is the most dangerous season for those who would climb up a ladder to string Christmas lights or clean out gutters. Follow these easy tips to stay safe:

  • There’s no substitute for a ladder
  • Use ladders with slip-resistant feet 
  • Straight ladders should rest one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height
    Wear slip-resistant shoes
  • Keep your hips between the side rails and do not lean too far.
  • Stay below the top two rungs

When the lights go out

After a storm, avoid walking near downed or low-hanging power lines. And when the lights go out, here's who to call: