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Should you be worried about wood smoke?

(NC) There’s nothing like a warm fire on a cold day to nurture your soul. But despite its cozy scent, wood smoke contains pollutants that can be harmful, including chemicals and fine particles. Fine particles can penetrate deep into your lungs and bloodstream, sometimes leading to serious health effects or even death.
If you use a wood stove or fireplace in your home, here are some steps you can take to reduce your health risks:

Maintain your stove

  • Make sure that your wood stove is well-maintained, vented correctly and working properly.
  • Have it inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.

Clean your chimney

  • Clean your chimney and flues regularly, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Use your dampers

  • Allow more airflow (ventilation) when starting a fire and close the dampers when the wood is well charred. This technique produces more heat, so you use less wood.

Burn wisely

  • Avoid burning wood on days when outdoor air pollution levels are high.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood. Cut, split and stack wood in a dry area for at least six months before burning it.
  • Never burn wood that has been painted or chemically treated; household garbage or cardboard; ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board or any wood with glue on or in it; or wet, rotted, diseased or mouldy wood.

If you are looking to upgrade or install a woodstove or fireplace:

  • Choose a low-emission stove
    Install an "advanced combustion" wood stove or fireplace insert to reduce toxic emissions.
  • Look for appliances that have a sticker from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This sticker certifies that the appliance emits up to 95 per cent fewer particulates and is up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than regular models.

Find more information on keeping a healthy home at canada.ca/healthy-home.

 
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Set your home up for a cozy winter

(NC) One of the best things about winter is coming inside from the frigid weather to a cozy and welcoming environment. To make your home a space where you’ll want to hibernate all season long, check out these tips.

Add layers of lighting. Our winters can be long and cold, so take steps to make sure your refuge is toasty warm and inviting. Swap out cool, white lightbulbs for warm ones and place plenty of light fixtures at various heights throughout your home. Think reading lamps, wall sconces and pendant lights. If you have a fireplace, make sure it’s clean and safe to use for natural lighting and warmth. You can also pepper your home with candles in comforting seasonal scents like fresh pine or cinnamon.

Create cozy nooks. Whether it’s in your bedroom, living room or study, set up spaces that make you want to curl up for a relaxing evening. Try making a little reading nook in your bay window where you can dive into a good read while pausing to watch the snow fall. If you love board games or puzzles, set up a dedicated table on the side of your living or family room, and you can leave them out so you can return whenever you like without worrying about tidying up.

Warm up with textiles. What’s better at this time of year than snuggling up with a fluffy pillow and blanket? Down isn’t just for the bed anymore, and there are lots of stylish (and Canadian) options that are a great addition to warm up any room in your household. For the most warmth and best insulation, choose high-quality down products that keep warmth in and cold out. Look for the Downmark label, which certifies a product is Canadian made and ethically sourced, an important feature for today’s savvy consumer.

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