Sooner than you know, temperatures will be dropping here in Arlington, Virginia. Snow will start falling, and people will start looking forward to quiet evenings in front of their fireplaces with festive lights, hot cocoa and hot toddies. This all sounds warm and cozy, but add in just one clogged chimney, frozen pipe or broken window, and things can turn from cozy to chaotic in the drop of a hat (or a tree limb). To avoid winter’s little danger zones, here are eight ways to keep your home and family happy and safe throughout the season:
- Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts. Before winter weather sets in, take a quick visual inspection around the exterior of your home. Note any loose or missing shingles, then schedule a professional inspection to see if repairs are needed. Downspouts and gutters also need a thorough check, clean out leaves and dirt, tighten loose fastenings.
- Trim your trees. No, not with lights and décor. Rather, check if there are any broken tree limbs or ones that have grown during the summer and need to be trimmed back. Check with a professional if you think you need extensive work.
- Dig out winter gear such as snow shovels, window scrapers, or snow blowers. Make sure they are serviced and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- Seal windows and doors to keep cold where it belongs – outside. Loose seals and drafty areas can often be taken care of with simple window insulation kits from your local home improvement store.
- If you have a fireplace, schedule a professional chimney inspection or cleaning. Weather damage, creosote buildup, and other issues such as foundation settling can cause serious problems that won’t show up until you light your first fire and it’s too late.
- Service your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). Changing your filters is a good first step, but it’s also a good idea to hire a professional for a full-system inspection including pipe, wiring and thermostat tests.
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries. (Many people use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder for this task).
- And finally, for both your home and your car (aka: many people’s second home!) create or restock a winter emergency supply kit. Storms, power outages, and other emergencies are more common this time of year. Make sure you have the right supplies on hand to weather any emergencies including blankets, candles, matches, flashlights, flares, first aid kits, water, nutrition bars, and necessary medications. For a list of recommendations, check out this page on The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA website.