How to keep your home safe during winter
The coldest time of the year is upon us, which means we need to make sure our homes are protected and safe from the dangers the harshest season can bring. Winter home safety is often overlooked but there are a number of ways you can help improve it – let’s take you through some helpful tips.
The last thing you want is a damaged roof or one that is unprepared for any snowfall, harsh winds or rain. Check all your roof space for any missing or loose shingles or cracked slates. You don’t want any leaks during storms or from built-up snow that melts.
Check around chimneys to make sure they are well sealed with intact vent stacks, with no rubble on the verge of falling in. You may need to hire a handyman or get someone who is a bit more experienced to have a look.
Once you or a helper is up there, inspect for any clogged up gutters or built-up debris and get it cleared up. You don’t want piles of wet leaves, bird nests, or other debris as they can contain moisture and cause rot when left unattended. If snow falls, make sure to keep on top of roof maintenance to prevent icicles forming.
Protect your pipes
It’s important to keep pipes warm throughout the season by using heating cables, pipe coverings and foam insulation.
One of the main concerns for pipes during winter is outside water seeping in and freezing, causing pipes to burst. That’s why it’s important to make sure your gutters are thoroughly checked and cleared, as well as making sure you’re always draining outdoor spigots and disconnecting hoses from outdoor faucets.
If temperatures do drop below freezing, make sure to keep faucets running slowly. Moving water helps prevent freezing and also alleviates pressure buildup.
For pipes that are near outside walls and windows, direct warm air towards them. Leave cupboards open to help with directing warm air flow, especially to sink pipes that are often on outside walls.
For exterior walls and under sinks, use foam to seal spaces or cracks. Check for any air leaks and gaps around windows and doors in the framing and use weatherstripping to seal them. Give these a good check by cleaning out any mould, and again use foam to seal and to help with insulation, making sure when it expands that framing isn’t warped. If gaps are small, use window sealant and caulk. You can use anti-mould sprays and paints to further protect windows and doors. Always check your home’s ventilation to make sure you’re not compromising it. Weatherstripping and sealing help with energy saving as well as keeping homes warmer.
Look after your driveway
Driveways can be danger zones during the winter season if they’re not well prepared. Have rock salt stored away ready to prevent any nasty slips or falls. Keep rakes and shovels looked after and easily accessible during winter so you can be on top of clearing up built-up slippery leaves and snow. When clearing out driveways, make sure you take extra care and are wrapped up with all the layers including hats and gloves. Don’t forget about handrails and steps either; make sure they’re all clear from snow and aren’t slippy. If there’s an icy period on the cards, again have rock salt prepared and laid down in advance. For driveway gates, make sure they’re also checked and clear of snow or any debris.
Prepare for a power outage
With winter, we’re often susceptible to stormy weather and power outages when heavy snowfall and winds hit. Don’t be left in the dark and cold – prepare yourself and your home. Two-way radios are good to store (ones that use batteries, solar power and a hand crank mechanism) so you can keep updated on weather reports or info on local power outages. You can also use solar-powered or hand-cranked mobiles to stay in touch with relatives and friends. Every house needs a power outage backup drawer or cupboard. Invest in a generator and keep extra batteries, bottles of water, first aid kits, torches, radios, candles, non-perishable foods and blankets stored. And if you have a log burner or natural fireplace, have plenty of logs stored ready with fire accelerants.
Deter burglars during the winter season
During the colder months, windows and doors are typically closed to keep in the warm air and heat, but sometimes we may open a window to let out moisture, smoke or just to get some fresh air. Make sure that you’re near any windows or doors you temporarily leave open to keep watch, and that no valuables are left to be easily snatched, especially wallets, keys and laptops.
For your gardens and driveways, make sure your lighting is checked and working properly. Light motion sensors are good for deterring would-be intruders. Make sure to check your burglar alarm system regularly, and have signs up to show you have good home security.
Keep viruses as bay
During any winter season you need to be doing everything you can to make sure germs don’t fester in your home as illnesses and viruses thrive in the cold. So what can we do to help protect us and our homes from bugs?
- Maintain good air circulation by opening windows and swapping stale air for a fresh cold breeze
- Wherever you can, keep the house a little cooler – viruses love warm environments – and use dehumidifiers
- Always keep hand soap well stocked and wash hands frequently
- Be more vigilant with chores and cleaning by regularly wiping down surfaces, door handles, light switches, bathrooms etc. with antibacterial wipes and sprays
- Keep hand sanitiser near doors and use it whenever you pick up parcels – sprays are also good to be used on any deliveries
- Change toothbrushes regularly
- Don’t let mould build up by letting out moisture and cleaning up wet surfaces – wipe down after showers and baths
- Regularly wash face coverings and masks
- Change from used garments and wash whenever you get in, especially for those who work in confined spaces or in high-risk areas, and keep used garments stored away well and wash them as soon as possible
Protecting your family and home during winter needn’t be too much of a hassle. By following these guidelines, you can rest more easily knowing you’re more prepared for the harshest season, and if the worst were to happen.
If you’re looking to update your home and driveway security, contact us to see how we can help – we know a thing or two.