The summer sun is abating and autumn's glorious colors are beginning to descend on your neighborhood. Cool weather is finally here and fall is a beautiful season, but you shouldn't let that make you complacent about the shift in weather patterns.

September is National Preparedness Month, and with that in mind, it’s worth considering how you and your family can enjoy the falling leaves without letting the real chill of winter catch you off guard. Use this fall readiness list to stay on top of safety this season and year-round.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

The incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline, or wood can result in carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas that can kill in minutes. Although you can’t see it, you can detect the conditions that produce it and the early warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning (learn more about the dangers of carbon monoxide).

Texas Energy recommends purchasing and installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home to instantly detect smoke or gas in the event of an emergency. They can seem to blend into the ceiling, but don't overlook these life-saving devices while you're preparing for the colder months.

Grab a small ladder and take a close look at each alarm (learn more about ladder safety). If any are beeping or flashing, it will need new batteries to keep up its proper operation. Some devices, such as carbon-monoxide types, require replacement after about five years of use. Servicing all of your alarms right before fall will allow you to avoid any severe damages from fire or gas leaks.

Heating Up Your House

Before you turn on the central heater, clean out the filter and give the entire unit a good look. Remove any dust or debris around the appliance to avoid any possible combustion. Perform the same inspection on portable heaters and warming pads. Don't heat them up until you're sure that they're clean and that their wires are damage free.

Use electric blankets with caution, especially with older adults and small children.

If your household has a wood-burning fireplace, contact a chimney sweep before you starting your first fire of the season. Without proper cleaning, soot can easily ignite within the chimney's length.

Severe Weather Radar

From hurricanes in the South to early ice storms in the North, autumn gets it share of severe weather. Follow a few safety tips that can protect your family if disaster does strike.

Stock up on water, canned food, and first-aid kits (find out what essentials you should keep in your first-aid kits). Pile blankets and pillows in a safe area in case you experience a power outage during cold weather.

Don't neglect to inspect your home for any structural issues that might break down under the strain of severe weather. An aging roof, for instance, should be repaired or replaced before autumn’s end.

Fight Off Fall Germs

The arriving cold also means that germs will soon be upon the neighborhood. Colds and flus become more common as people remain indoors and in close proximity to each other.

Keep a supply of hand sanitizer and tissues in convenient locations so that coughs and sneezes can be isolated as much as possible. Wash your hands on a frequent basis and keep them away from your face. Avoiding germs is the best way to safeguard your household from an overwhelming disease that affects everyone.

Back-to-school Prep

The kids are heading back to school, which means more time away from mom and dad and new rules to follow. Now's the time to give them a safety refresher.

Make sure they know how to hop on the correct bus and to only cross the street at designated sections. Let them know they should immediately notify an adult if they notice a strange person near the bus or the school. Kids who bike to school need to obey all of the traffic rules while paying attention to their surroundings (consult these bicycle safety tips). Carefully review basic school safety information with children of all ages.


The change of the seasons is a perfect opportunity to take stock of your entire household's safety readiness. Divide the labor by assigning certain family members to various tasks, including a test of the alarms. It's a great way to teach young children about their role in keeping a safe household.