Winter can be a dangerous time around the home. Bad weather can turn small problems into major hazards, so it pays to make sure your home is safe before the colder months arrive. The following are some of the main areas that may need attention:
Winter can produce some nasty storms and strong winds that may cause damage to your home. Clearing away any loose debris from around your yard reduces the likelihood that it will become airborne during a storm.
Windows are vulnerable to flying missiles, so if you have screens or storm shutters, make sure they are undamaged and in good working order now, rather than just before a storm arrives.
Paths and steps can become wet and slippery in winter, so before the rain arrives, repair any damage to paths, verandas and driveways and make sure they are clear of debris so that they will drain properly. Consider painting slippery areas with non-slip paint.
Trees can pose a safety problem at any time, but particularly in winter when strong winds test any weaknesses they might have. Before winter arrives, check trees for disease and remove any potentially dangerous limbs, particularly near your house or car or close to power lines. It would be wise to hire a contractor for such jobs, as tree lopping can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Winter can be a hazardous time inside your home as well. The number of house fires increases significantly in the colder months, usually due to heaters being used incorrectly or faulty heating appliances.
Inspect your heaters for signs of wear, like frayed cords or faulty switches, and replace them if necessary. Many house fires in winter are caused by heaters left too close to furniture, drapes or drying clothes, so be sure to position heaters safely and supervise children around them.
If you have a fireplace, clean your chimney and flues. A blocked chimney will not only smoke up your house, but can also start a fire in your roof. Again, have a tradesperson attend to this, as it is a professional job.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked and batteries replaced if necessary, and if you have a fire extinguisher, check to see that it is still compliant.
If you experience a power outage during a storm and use a backup generator, make sure it is only run in a well-ventilated area, as fumes can cause carbon monoxide poisoning in confined spaces.
Winter is the time when your home is most vulnerable to the elements, so it is important to make sure your home insurance is up to date.
You should also check your contents insurance to make sure you are fully covered for everything you own. Household items come and go, so if you have not checked it lately, you may find something you have purchased recently is not covered by your policy, or you may be paying insurance for something you no longer own.
Home safety is about planning ahead and staying on top of repairs and maintenance. If done systematically, you will protect your home not only in winter, but all year round as well.