Although we have been experiencing some unseasonable weather in recent months, winter weather is inevitably right around the corner. With the inclimate weather comes a whole set of concerns that can be lessened with a yearly winter prevention routine along with some key precautionary measures.
Here are some recommended steps to consider in a winter prevention routine:
- Keep gutters clean – Snow and ice accumulate and melt throughout the winter and into the spring, debris in your gutters could cause the water to leak into your walls or ceilings creating larger water damage issues. To make the cleanup easier, consider installing gutter guards.
- Repair and insulate pipes – We have all heard of the dread of burst pipes in the winter time, before the temperature gets too cold, repair cracks or leaks and cover pipes with heating tape to keep out the cold. Consider seeking the assistance of a professional plumber, especially if a property is frequently unattended during the cold weather. Commercial property owners should make tenants aware of freezing temperature routines and also take into consideration any sprinkler systems installed in the building.
- Trim trees – falling trees could create major damage to your home or car. Pay special attention to: cracks in a tree trunk or major limb, hollow and decayed trees, trees leaning significantly, and branches hanging over or near the roof or in contact with power lines.
- Ensure space heaters are UL-tested – select heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and a model with automatic shut-off. It is recommended that you contact your independent insurance agent if you are planning to use supplemental heating, as it may impact your insurance coverage.
- Keep items away from space heaters – maintain a clear area of 36 inches around your space heaters, and include a noncombustible shielding under the heater. Never leave heaters unattended while operating.
- Clean and inspect fireplace.
- Cap the chimney – a cap of wire mesh will prevent debris from blocking the chimney.
- Fireplace usage tips: burn seasoned wood to prevent creosote buildup; never burn newspapers, plastics, charcoal or trash in the fireplace; close the flue when your fireplace is not being used; keep the entire hearth area clear of combustible materials, use a screen to prevent sparks from escaping into the room; and ensure ashes are cool before disposing them in metal container.
- Keep fire extinguisher near heat source - make sure all occupants know where the extinguisher is located.
- Check smoke alarms monthly – all households should have at least one smoke alarm on each floor and preferably in every bedroom. Install new batteries annually in smoke alarms (smoke alarms themselves should be replaced every 10 years), check and replace deteriorating electrical cords, and have a family home safety plan. It is also a good practice to install a carbon monoxide alarm near each sleeping area in your home.
Put these preventative measures in place and enjoy a warm, stress-free winter season!