With winter in full-swing here in New England, a snowstorm could be right around the corner – bringing with it a heightened risk of accidents in and around your home. Hopefully, you took a few steps to prepare your home in the fall, but if not, rest assured because you can still do a few things to minimize any risk to your home and your loved ones. Being prepared for the unexpected will not only keep your mind at ease as a storm approaches, but it will also ensure you have all the tools you’ll need in the event of damage to your home.
Here are six common home hazards and how to minimize their risk:
Icy walkways and steps
Even a small amount of ice and snow buildup can lead to treacherous conditions — and, if someone falls on your property no matter the circumstances, the homeowner is liable. Keep salt and sand on hand to spread on any slippery walkways and shovel when conditions are safe to do so. Also, if you have pets, be sure to check the labels as many de-icing products can be toxic to animals.
An ice dam is when a ridge of ice forms at the edge of a roof, preventing melted snow from draining into the gutters and leading to a buildup of heavy snow and ice. In addition to the risk of a roof collapse, water may seep under the shingles and cause leaking into the attic and walls of your home. A quick fix to reduce your risk of ice dams is to invest in a roof rake and clear off snow as it accumulates. For homes two stories or higher, you may need to consult a professional who can safely remove the snow from your roof.
Frozen pipes are one of the most common types of property damage throughout the winter months – and, can also be the most costly. To help save your home from the flooding that comes with a burst pipe, take these steps to minimize your risk.
- Never turn your thermostat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Insulate any exposed pipes that are at risk for freezing.
- If you leave your home for an extended period of time, have a trusted friend or family check-in on your home.
- Keep your faucet turned on just slightly so that in the event of a burst pipe, the water has somewhere else to go.
In the long winter months, it’s common to light candles or start a fire in the fireplace to make your home feel a little more cozy and warm. However, it is important to note that doing so will increase your risk of a house fire tremendously. If you do choose to light a flame, never leave it unattended and ensure candles and fires are properly put out before going to bed or leaving your home. Also, you should have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to use.
Carbon monoxide build-up
Increased use of heating systems and elements can lead to a toxic level of carbon monoxide in your home if you have a leak. According to the National Safety Council, 400 people die annually as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. This silent but deadly risk can present some warning symptoms such as headaches and nausea, but oftentimes there will be no symptoms at all. To reduce your chance of experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, ensure all your vents are properly inspected and up-to-date, and be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector.
Space heater damage
While space heaters can help keep your temperatures high and your heating bill low, they can also be very dangerous when not properly used. If left unattended, they can blow a fuse, burn through your belongings, and cause a fire. Before using a space heater, make sure you purchase one that is an appropriate size for your space and that you keep it away from any flammable objects. We also suggest keeping it on a level surface away from foot traffic, pets, and children. If you leave the room, be sure to turn off your space heater and consider unplugging it as well.
We hope these tips help keep you, your home, and your loved ones safe throughout the winter season.
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