Like it or not, winter is coming and with it we need to examine our homes and keep them and our family safe. Here are some suggestions of what you should be checking as we close ourselves in for the winter:
1) It’s time to light candles, fireplaces and lots of cooking. Let’s make sure that our smoke detectors are in great working order. Every smoke detector has a life expectancy – they don’t last forever. If you have a monitored fire system, put your system on test by calling our emergency response center and then hit the test buttons on your devices. For those without a monitored system, be sure to change the batteries in your detectors every six months. Be sure that they are in good working order. If in doubt, replace the full device.
2) Carbon Monoxide, the Silent Killer, is also more prevalent with your windows shut and your house closed up for freezing temperatures. While you have that stool out checking your smoke detectors, also test your carbon monoxide detectors.
3) Next, it’s time to vacuum out those radiators to prevent dust and pet hair build-up. If you have a furnace, plan to have it serviced to be sure it is in good working order. For those of you with wood, coal or pellet stoves – clean baffles, clean glass, check gaskets or blowers, look for cracks, inspect the heat exchange. Be sure that you check the damper and run a brush down your chimney before lighting any heating device to make sure that you do not have any creosote build-up or unexpected nesting lodged in it.
4) Check your thermostats and, if possible, program them for cooler/warmer temperatures throughout the day. No need to warm the house all the way up if no one is home during the day. Spending the winter in Florida? Consider adding low temperature supervision to your alarm system – so you’ll be alerted before your house reaches freezing temperatures due to any possible catastrophe, for example your furnace running out of oil or malfunctioning.
5) Windows or doors leaking? Take the time to seal any leaks with epoxy or expanding foam to prevent that cold wind from coming in.
6) Leaves are mostly done falling from the trees by now, so clean out your gutters and downspouts of any leaf clogs which would cause damage to your home due to water leakage or ice build-up.
7) Drain and take in the hoses and turn off any outside water spigots to prevent any burst pipes. Any exposed pipes in your garage or crawlspace that might freeze should also be wrapped to avoid bursting and flooding. If you are a snow bird, you might want to consider installing a “water bug” flooding detector which can easily be added to your existing alarm system. It also works great near your washing machine – anyone who has ever experienced a washing machine overflow knows what I’m talking about!
8) Unless you want some furry critter company for the winter, seal any gaps leading into your home and be sure to add the attic to that checklist. No one wants uninvited squirrels or rodents in their home.
9) Get your snow removal tools ready. Put away the rakes and bring out the shovels. Tune up and gas up that snow blower to be on the ready for the first storm.
10) Have a generator? Fill the gas tank and start it up. Last thing you want is a power outage and your generator failing or out of gas.
11) Check your automobiles to be sure that you have a scraper, blankets, snacks and an emergency kit in each in case you get stuck. And while you are out there, check your all-season tires or install snow or ice tires. Of course, you will check those treads. A bald tire is not a good idea in snow and ice.
Now that you are certain your home is ready for winter, it’s time to light that fire, snuggle down and enjoy the season.