When you were a child, you might have kept our fingers crossed for a snow day. Now you know the winter weather can lead to all sorts of trouble. The heavy snow, ice and extremely cold temperatures can lead to disasters at home. Winter storms can cause frozen pipes that lead to flooding, power outages, slick conditions and even home fires. Make sure your home is prepared and your family is practicing these winter safety tips to get you through the cold days ahead.
Winter Fire Safety
- Keep up with regular maintenance on heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected once a year.
- If you are using alternative heat sources, such as fireplaces or space heaters, make sure you have fire extinguishers on hand and that everyone in your house knows how to use them.
- Be careful if using candles during a power outage! Never leave a candle unattended and always keep them out of reach of children.
- Only buy heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) & keep items at least three feet away while in use.
- Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
- Test and replace old batteries in smoke alarms to make sure they are in proper working order.
- Always make sure the fireplace is completely out before leaving your home or going to bed.
- If the power goes off make sure that all electrical appliances are switched to the OFF position.
Preventing Flooding Due to Frozen Pipes
- Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during extreme cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even just a trickle, can help prevent the pipes in your home from freezing.
- If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation and wrap the pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold.
- Make sure you know how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts in your home.
Other Home Safety Tips
- Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors. Always refuel these items outdoors and in well ventilated areas.
- When in doubt hire a contractor to check the structural ability of your roof. The accumulation of snow and ice can be heavy and pose a challenge to old roofs.
- If you will be traveling during the cold weather, make sure to leave the heat on in your home. Set the temperature to no lower than 55˚F.