Winter can be great for those of us that love the snow and ice. For the rest of us, the post-Halloween weather can be a headache for many reasons. It’s a heightened time for car accidents, as well as sky-rocketed electric/gas/oil bills, and not to mention chapped lips and dry skin. The last thing you want to worry about is a busted pipe or a roof that has caved in as a result of wet leaves or ice. With the recent devastation from Hurricane Sandy on the east coast, it’s a certainty that no one is in the mood for any more home damage or liability.
Here are just a few tips on things to keep in mind as the winter season settles upon us.
1. Stock Up – Never underestimate the force of Mother Nature. Stock your car and garage with appropriate winter supplies, such as shovels, ice scrapers, ice picks, blankets, and etc. Check any older snow blowers, shovels, and ice scrapers for damage, and replace or repair any that are damaged or worn before the first snowfall. Your steps and sidewalks must be clear of snow, ice, leaves, and other types of debris.
2. Take care of your yard – The harsh winter weather can be rough on your plants and lawn. Snow, wind, sleet and ice can result in weak tree trunks and broken branches that can damage your house, car, or even worse, someone on your property. When the weather starts to cool, don’t forget to trim your trees and get rid of dead branches. Also be sure to clean the gutters on your house to prevent water from building up and freezing. Your flowers need to be covered as well, so they are safe and ready for Spring!
3. Keep your home warm enough – This may seem like a no-brainer, but always be cognizant of the temperature inside the home, keeping it at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. (This is especially important if you travel frequently throughout the winter months.) If it is any colder, you risk the chance of pipes freezing, which can crack and spew gallons of water throughout your home. Don’t forget to drain the outdoor hoses as well.
4. Check, Check, Check! – Check all doors and windows for cracks or areas where cold air could seep in, using caulk and weatherstripping to fix and prevent this problem. Make sure all steps, handrails, sidewalks and driveways are in good shape. Broken stairs and cracked cement become even more dangerous when covered with snow and ice. All deicers can accelerate surface damage to concrete, since they increase the number of freeze-thaw cycles. In order to prevent additional cracks from forming in good quality concrete due to the use of deicing agents, use an ice melter such as Morton® Safe-T-Plus ice melt, which is formulated to result in reduced surface damage to concrete compared to plain salt.
Also, how often do you check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside your house ? Make sure they are in all working condition. If you have gas coming into your house, you must install carbon monoxide detectors in your basement and near gas stove. Carbon monoxide (CO) kills over 2,000 people every year in the U.S. and another 8,000 to 15,000 people are treated for non-fire-related CO poisoning annually, according US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates.
With winter comes the enhanced use of the fireplace as well. Check the fire extinguishers in your home, and be sure everyone is educated on how to operate one.
The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Avoid becoming a headline. Take the steps necessary to ensure you and your family are safe and sound. It is easy to overlook any one of these tips but it is imperative to get into habit of following them every year. Also, you can check your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure you are covered for any winter related disasters such as roof collapse.