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Simple Safety Tips for Winter

Posted: January 29, 2015

Keeping your home safe doesn't just mean adding a security system to help prevent intruders from coming in. It also means keeping things out like the cold air, ice, snow, and all the other problems that can arise when the weather gets nasty. When the temperature goes below freezing, it can make for some unsafe conditions in your home. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe and toasty during the winter months.

Have Your Appliances Checked

There’s no denying that everyone depends on their appliances in some way, shape or form. The refrigerator, washing machine, HVAC system, water heater, and other appliances are all a part of living safely and comfortably in your home. Without these appliances, it would be very difficult to go about your day-to-day activities. For this reason, it’s very important to have these appliances checked by a professional before the winter months. Now, in terms of what appliances should be priority, you should pay special attention to your HVAC unit. After all, you wouldn't be able to heat your home without it. You should have that inspected at least once a year, and should try to schedule a once-a-year inspection for late fall or early winter.

Make Sure There Is Ventilation

During the cold months, it’s common to shut all the windows and doors to keep out cold air. However, your home can get awfully stuffy if you do that. Ventilation is important for maintaining indoor air quality and avoiding stuffiness. This goes double for any appliances that burn fuel. If the appliances that burn fuel don’t have an exhaust vent of some kind, you can run into problems with dangerous carbon monoxide gases filling your home. Ensure that all ventilation vents are working properly before the rest of your house is shut up for the winter.

Prep Your Fireplaces 

There is nothing better than sitting in front of a hot fire while a winter storm is raging outside. While fireplaces are beneficial in cold weather, it’s usually wise not to depend on them to heat your entire home. Most of the heat generated will go right up the chimney, and using a fireplace can sometimes be dangerous. Modern gas fireplaces are designed in a way that eliminates most of the older wood fireplace downfalls, but they should also be handled with care. If you are going to use a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney checked, and possibly swept, before you light your first fire of the winter. Once that fire is lit, make sure that you have a metal fire screen that’s large enough to catch any sparks that may pop out of the fireplace.

Protect Your Pipes 

Combine older homes with low temperatures and the result could mean frozen pipes. Before it gets too cold, check your pipes to ensure that they have adequate insulation. If your pipes freeze, they could burst, and that will leave you without any running water until they can be fixed. Another way to help prevent freezing pipes is to let the water drip from your faucet. Even a little bit of water running can help prevent freezing.

Have an Emergency Kit 

Emergencies can arise out of many different situations, so you should have a kit prepared for almost any scenario. An emergency kit should have essential supplies like: a flashlight, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable food to help you ride out any severe weather.

Insulate Your Home 

If your home isn’t properly insulated, your HVAC unit will run constantly in order to pump out enough heat to keep your home at the set temperature. Install insulation in the ceilings to keep the heat inside your home. You might also consider putting plastic over windows or replacing them altogether before the weather gets too cold. Windows, (especially old windows) let in a lot of cold air, and can cost you a lot of money in heating bills over the course of a cold winter.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

These two detectors are often forgotten when it comes to winter preparation. They happen to be extremely important for the safety of your home and those who live in it. Make sure that the detectors are working and that the batteries in the detectors have plenty of charge. Be sure to push the test button at least once a month to know if the detectors are still working.

Ensure You Have a Back-up Heating Source 

Sometimes you’ve done all you can to fully insulate your house and make sure you’re ready for winter. You then find out that your HVAC system has stopped working. What do you do? Whether you start a fire in the fireplace or pull the space heaters out of storage, you need to have a back-up heating source. Space heaters work well, and are generally a safe, effective option. Just make sure you know exactly how to operate them. If the space heater burns gas of some kind, make sure there is some type of ventilation so that there’s no carbon monoxide build-up. There are plenty more things you can do to prepare for the cold winter months. Just remember the things you need to insulate, while making sure to ventilate rooms and test appliances for functionality. With a little bit of prepping, these tips will help you stay safe and warm all winter long.