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Living in a Winter Wonderland: Tips for a Safe Home

January 12, 2016

Jemeli BentlyDespite the unseasonably mild start this year, Old Man Winter is here and with his arrival comes more time spent indoors, colder temperatures and winter storms.  Snow, ice, wind and cold can cause in-home dangers.  However, with a little knowledge and preparation, you can ensure your home weathers the chilly months and you have a safe and event free winter.

Here are eight tips for making sure your home is safe this winter:

1)      Tune Up Your Furnace – Schedule a maintenance visit with your HVAC company to have your system professionally cleaned and inspected and make sure it’s being properly ventilated to the outside.  Also be sure to change your filter frequently (usually monthly – check your furnace manual or ask your HVAC company).

2)      Give Your Fireplace, Chimney and Roof Some TLC– Clean out your fireplace or wood stove and have your chimney inspected and swept, if needed.  Also inspect your roof, repair any leaks and replace any missing or damaged shingles.

3)      Clear Your Gutters and Down Spouts – Remove any leaves and debris from your gutters so melting snow and ice can properly drain.  Also make sure your downspouts lead water to at least three feet from your home and if not, add extensions to avoid foundation problems.

4)      Winterize Your Home – From installing storm windows to adding insulation to sealing cracks with caulk and applying weather stripping around door and window frames, winterizing your home can not only save you money on energy bills but also help you avoid issues, like ice dams.

5)      Prevent frozen pipes – Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like those that feed irrigation systems, exterior water faucets, swimming pools and pipes going into unheated interior areas like garages most frequently freeze. Make sure you drain water from supply lines and close inside valves.  Also make sure that pipes feeding unheated areas are thoroughly insulated.

6)      Check Your Fire and CO Detectors –From space heaters to candles to unattended stove tops, home fires increase in the winter.   Ensure both your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and that they have new batteries.  Also make sure you have detectors and fire extinguishers on each floor of your home.

7)      Trim Your Trees – While they may not be inside your home, trees on your property need to be trimmed to prevent branches from falling on your home or bringing down power lines.

8)      Be Prepared for Storms and Power Outages – From stocking up on snow melt, nonperishable foods and bottled water to ensuring your snow blower, shovel and roof rake are accessible and ready to go (including fuel), be prepared for winter storms.  When snowstorms hit, also make sure your heating vents aren’t blocked by snow, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  In the event there is a power outage, make sure you have a safe alternate heating source as well as a hand-crank radio, flashlights with new batteries and backup battery or solar-powered chargers to keep cell phones charged.

If possible, do maintenance heading into winter to avoid emergency repairs, which are not only harder to get scheduled but also often more expensive.  A little prevention will go a long way in giving you peace of mind and ensuring you can enjoy winter from the comfort of your safe and warm home.

Click here to access our safety checklist

Jemeli Bentley

Personal Lines Account Manager

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