Tips for preparing your home for unexpected emergencies this winter

Wintry weather comes as no surprise to Michiganders. But often we are caught off guard when things go wrong - like an unexpected power outage. 

Emergency preparedness is especially important for people who rely on electric medical devices.

"It’s important if people have medical devices that need power, they’ve made arrangements with the electric company or they have some way that they can power that device if the power goes out," says Dr. Baruch Fertel, who's from Cleveland Clinic. 

It’s best to have your home’s heating system inspected by a professional once a year to make sure everything is clean, working and ventilated properly.

Dr. Fertel says it’s always a good idea to have basic, non-perishable food items on hand as well as blankets, layers and, if necessary, a safe place to go.

And while portable devices can be helpful, he says you have to be careful not to have portable heaters or open gas burning in the house because it can lead to carbon monoxide exposure, which can be fatal.

Using space heaters also brings risk for fire and burns, so they should never be used around children.

And if you need to run a generator, never use it indoors or in an enclosed area.

Dr. Fertel says risks for fires or carbon monoxide poisoning are always highest during cold weather months, so having working detectors is a must.

"Always make sure you have a working smoke detector and a working carbon monoxide detector. There are these combination products – put them in the house, they save lives."

And if you have a new driver in your house, keep an extra pair of gloves, a hat and a coat in the trunk of your car just in case an emergency lands you on the side of the road during bad weather.