It’s easy to forget to change the smoke detector batteries, clean your gutters, or change filters when nothing’s going wrong. But taking a little extra time to make sure that everything is prepared and in top shape for the winter can go a long way. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few must-do’s for safety and security during the colder weather.
6 Winter Home Safety Tips
1. Insulate your windows and doors.
Letting cold air draft into your home through your doors and windows will lower your energy savings and efficiency. Seal your windows and doors with weatherstripping, caulk or heavier curtains to keep indoors. Some homeowners add storm windows for durability. There are also easy and cheap options, including a door stopper to keep air from the bottom of your door and duct tape for older doors that have small creases for air to pass through.
2. Avoid water build up in your pipes or faucets.
If water freezes, it can cause your pipes to burst and lead to expensive home repairs. Insulate your pipes throughout the home – especially in areas that aren’t heated, including basements and attics. And, if you’re expecting freezing temperatures, leave your faucets running just a little to avoid water freezing and bursting the pipes. If your home has crawl space vents, close them to prevent your pipes from freezing.
3. Stay prepared for a power outage.
During winter months, power outages may be frequent and unpredictable. Make sure you have emergency kits, non-perishable foods, working flashlights and batteries. Your heating system may go out, so prepare safe backups, including kerosene heaters, non-electric space heaters and candles. It’s also best to get a generator as a temporary backup power source, but ensure you follow the proper safety measures when operating a generator.
Once the power goes out, unplug home appliances to avoid damaging them if there’s a surge when the power’s back. Keep your phone charged and have a portable backup charger just in case. Many home security systems today have battery backup that kicks in during a power outage, allowing you to have additional protection for a certain amount of time. If you have a home security system, make sure you power backup for your system and equipment to continue to work during an outage. Most systems include a rechargeable backup battery pack.
4. Be careful of heat sources.
Do not use your stove or an outdoor grill as a heating source to prevent home fires. And never use charcoal grills indoors because they can release carbon monoxide – a poisonous, odorless gas. Instead, use electric space heaters that automatically shut off in case you forget.
Remember to keep heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects and only use them as instructed. Blankets are also another safe option for helping you to hold in your body heat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises that if you choose a kerosene heater make sure it’s legal in your area. You’ll need to replace your furnace’s filters and have a professional check your home’s heating annually.
And, if you have a fireplace, remember to have your chimney checked every year. Keep working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers for safety.
5. Add extra security around your home.
It gets dark earlier during the winter months. Add smart lights to automatically turn on at dusk and invest in a security system with professional monitoring what’s happening at home when you’re away.
A doorbell camera like the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro lets you keep an eye on packages and could help you prevent porch pirates. Keep your lawn maintained to prevent thieves from hiding in places that are hard to see, plus add outdoor lights and motion detectors, so you’ll always know what’s happening around your home.
6. Maintain the exterior of your home during wintry weather.
Snow and ice are pretty to look at and a whole lot of fun for the little ones, but wintry weather can make it extremely dangerous to step outside of your home.
Before the wintry weather hits, make sure your gutters are free from webs, leaves and other dirt that can damage your foundation over time. Also, keep a snow shovel, ice scraper, sand, and salt on hand to help stop freezing and with clear walkways.
When going outdoors, dress in layers from head to toe. Be careful of slippery areas that may cause falls. The Red Cross recommends being mindful of your health as heavy labor in snow and ice can lead to hypothermia and heart attacks.
If an elderly family member lives with you, you may want to consider a medical alert system for their safety. Many medical alert systems come with fall detection and put them in touch with first responders during an emergency.
Enjoy the winter weather and have fun with your family. Go sledding, get into a snowball fight and make hot cocoa, but stay safe, too. Home safety and security go beyond the cold months —schedule reminders and or appointments for home safety checks and stock-up on items. Preventative measures can save time, money and keep your humble abode in tip-top shape.