Now that winter is in full swing, we want to remind you of some of the risks that come with the season. In addition to outdoor hazards and snowstorms, spending more time at home over the next couple of months can also increase your risk of an accident.
Fortunately, there are some quick fixes you can do and a few maintenance check-ins to help reduce your risk of experiencing a problem in the coming months. Here are some common winter hazards and how to avoid them.
Inside and outside your home, falls can lead to a hospital visit and/or expensive legal fees if you’re hit with a lawsuit. Wet surfaces, uneven staircases, and items left on the floor can all lead to a broken bone or head injury. To help reduce your risk, make sure to do the following:
- Secure staircases — This includes installing solid handrails, fixing loose boards, having adequate lighting at night, and keeping salt or sand on hand in the event of snowstorms. If you have small children, you should also have safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Keep hallways and walkways clean — Always clean up toys and items left on the floor in the way of foot traffic. In the winter, be especially careful to shovel walkways and salt any icy patches.
- Cover surfaces prone to pooling water — If you frequently track water inside from your shoes, make sure to have a mat in front of the door to avoid slipping.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 379,600 residential fires in the United States per year. Many of these fires could have been prevented through safe practices and preparedness. Take these steps to help reduce your risk of loss or injury from a fire:
- Install fire alarms on all levels of your home.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen and any room with a fireplace.
- Blow out all candles before you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Unplug appliances you’re not using.
- Turn off holiday lights before leaving the house or going to sleep.
- Have your fireplace cleaned before using it for the winter and only run it if you’re in the room.
- Keep space heaters away from flammable objects and never leave them running unattended.
Along the same lines as fire prevention, you should also be mindful of carbon monoxide risks in the winter. Even low exposure can result in headaches and dizziness. It’s virtually undetectable by sight or smell so having a working carbon monoxide detector is your best solution to keeping your family safe.
Frozen pipes are one of the most common problems homeowners face in the winter and can also be one of the most costly. Before the frigid temps hit, be sure to:
- Drain and remove outdoor hoses.
- Insulate areas in direct contact with attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
- Identify areas of your home that have exposed water pipes.
- Make sure your thermostat doesn’t dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Have someone look in on your house if you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time.
You can learn more about how to prevent and treat frozen pipes here.
Not only is ice a hazard on your walkways, it also puts you at risk for ice dams. These will damage the interior of your home and cause major water damage in your attic and on your ceilings. A few things you can do to help reduce your risk is to make sure your gutters are cleaned before the first snowfall and install roof heating cables if your home is prone to ice dams.