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Tips To Protect The Winter Home

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With wintry weather conditions still gripping many regions, it’s the perfect time to review preventative measures to help protect your home and family. After several months of cold temperatures and with snow loads accumulating over extended periods of time, your home can become more susceptible to weather-related damage. It’s never too late to double check your preparedness and make sure your home has optimal safety and protective measures in place.

Following are tips to help protect both your family and your home.

Exterior

  • Snow Removal: Hire a service to shovel snow from decks and roofs during periods of heavy snow accumulation to help prevent potential damage and/or collapse. Driveways should be cleared of snow accumulation every 3” – 6” to allow access for emergency responders such as fire, police or paramedics in the event of an emergency.
  • Heat Tape: Installed at the roof’s edge and in gutters/downspouts, this can reduce ice damming and resulting interior damage. Annual checks should be performed to verify that the coils are properly attached and in working order during winter months.
  • Caretakers & Property Managers: Homes that are secondary or unoccupied for extended periods should be checked at least once a week to inspect the home for mechanical/HVAC outages, frozen pipes and water leaks.

Interior

  • Plumbing: Insulate pipes located within exterior walls or add heat tape in areas with extended exposure to cold temperatures to help avoid freezing pipes. Know where your water shut off value is located in the event of a water emergency.1
  • Low Temperature Alarms: Installing centrally monitored low temperature alarms in areas where plumbing and heating systems are present can alert you or a caretaker to low temperatures before pipes can freeze.
  • Space Heaters: Keep all portable heaters at least 3’ away from bedding, furniture, draperies and combustibles. Do not use extension cords to power the heaters and avoid long-term or prolonged use of space heaters.3
  • Generators and Other Equipment: Keep generators 20’ away from your home and do not use grills, camp stoves or devices fueled by gasoline, propane, or charcoal inside any portion of your home, crawlspace, basement, or garage.2
  • Interior Temperatures: Maintain the temperature at a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Additional Alarm Systems: Replace smoke alarm batteries every six months and replace smoke detectors every 8 to 10 years to upgrade with the latest technology2. Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.4
  • Be Prepared: Keep flashlights and extra batteries, first-aid kits, extra prescriptions medications, fire extinguishers, extra food that does not require refrigeration and extra pet food.2

Fire and Ice: Keeping the Fire Department in Mind

In addition to keeping your driveway and walkways cleared of excess snow and ice accumulation, these steps can help to expedite emergency service response from the fire department, as well as medical and police responders:

  • Reflective or contrasting visible address numbers conspicuously mounted to identify your home
  • Mark the closest fire hydrants to your home

- Lisa Klehr is a Premier Account Specialist for Chubb Personal Risk Services’ Risk Consulting Group.

This article orignally appeared as "Winter Weather Update: Helping Your Home Brave The Elements" on the Risk Conversation blog on February 27, 2018.

Sources:

  1. Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes
  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/before.shtml
  3. Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html
  4. Department of Homeland Security: https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather

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