Winter reminds us to drive safer, but we also need to remember to protect our homes. With temperatures dropping quickly this winter there are ways we can prevent damage to our homes.

  • Wrap all exposed pipes located outside or in unheated areas of the home.
  • Remove garden hoses from outside faucets.
  • Cover vents around the foundation of your home.
  • Know where your property owner's cut-off valve is located and how to use it.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to the outside walls.
  • In unheated garages, shut off water to washing machines. Water softeners should be drained and protected from freezing temperatures.
  • If temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least 4 hours, drip outside faucets 24 hours a day (5 drops per minute). Be sure to turn off the faucets after the threat of freezing weather.
  • In sustained sub-freezing weather, let water drip slowly from inside faucets.
  • Take extra precautions to protect pipes that have frozen in the past.

Tips for when you are not home:

  • Shut water off at the property owner's cut off valve.
  • Drain all outside water faucets if your house will be unoccupied for several days (leave outside faucets open.)
  • Leave home heating system on at a low setting.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.

Heater Safety

  • Have a professional inspect and service your central heating unit each year.
  • Keep the area round the central heating units clear and clean filters regularly.
  • "Space heaters need space." Heaters should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including the walls, curtains, and bedding.
  • Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.
  • Electrical and kerosene heaters should be equipped with a cutoff device that will automatically shut off if the unit is tipped over or overheats.
  • Make sure electric and kerosene heaters have the "UL" approval seal.
  • Check electric space heaters for frayed or splitting wires. Have all problems repaired by a professional before opening.
  • Kerosene and natural gas heaters should be used in an enclosed area unless the area is vented or a window is partially opened to let fresh air in. This prevents the possible buildup of carbon monoxide. If you choose to install carbon monoxide detectors, choose models that are UL-Listed, with a digital readout. Follow manufacturer's directions for proper placement.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Never use heater/AC or water heater closets for storage.

Fireplace Safety

  • Make Certain to open the flue in the fireplace before lighting a fire.
  • Only burn hardwoods such as oak, maple, or ash in fireplaces. If synthetic logs are used, burn only one log at a time. Due to their construction, these logs produce a hotter fire than most firewood.
  • Never use lighter fluid, gasoline, or other flammable liquids to start or enhance a fire.
  • Do not burn paper (including newspaper and giftwrap). Christmas trees or any holiday greenery in a fireplace.
  • Chimneys should be professionally inspected each year and cleaned after burning approximately one cord of wood.
  • Use a fireplace metal screen to prevent sparks from flying out.
  • Make sure fires are out before going to bed or leaving the house
  • Keep children away from the fireplace at all times
  • Avoid wearing loose, flowing clothing near a fire.
  • Always cool the ashes before taking them out of the fireplace. Place the ashes in a metal container and allow then to sit for several days or wet down thoroughly before putting the into a trash container or dumpster.
  • Use a spark arrestor, which is a metal screen that covers the top of the chimney and prevents sparks from escaping. (It also will prevent birds from building a nest in the chimney).