Winter safety and security tips
The winter season is often regarded as the season where more things will go wrong in and around your home. Insurance statistics tell us that your home is at much greater risk of a mishap or problem over the winter months. There are many contributing factors including but not limited too: Extreme weather which strains your home’s systems. Extended periods where your home is unoccupied. Much less daylight for an extended period of time. And less foot traffic in neighbourhoods.
There are things we can do to increase our defences against security and safety issues. Here are a few tips that may help keep your home and its occupants safer.
1. Enhance your outdoor lighting. New LED flood lights use much less energy and make it more affordable to keep your home’s entrances and driveway lit throughout the night. If you park your car outside, having the driveway illuminated reduces the chances of auto theft or B & E.
2. Avoid extended “warm-ups” of your vehicle when unattended. Most cars no longer require much warm up, and even when locked…and idling car is a great temptation to a car thief. Never let your car idle in your garage, the carbon monoxide emitted could be deadly.
3. Consider upgrading your alarm system to include environmental monitoring. Adding devices that monitor for falling temperature, and leaking water can prevent tens of thousands of $’s damage to your home. The number one cause of water damage is a broken pipe caused by being frozen. Add ‘Smart monitoring” and be able to check your home’s temperature from your smartphone at will.
4. With your furnace working overtime during cold spells, and windows and doors sealed to keep the cold out, your home is more susceptible to higher levels of Carbon Monoxide. CO is a highly poisonous gas, and the product of burning natural gas, oil, or from car exhaust. Have your furnace serviced annually which should include an inspection of your chimney for cracks. Its now also the law to have a working Carbon Monoxide detector in your home, it could also save your life. The detectors should be replaced every 8 years.
5. Fire is another serious concern for the winter months. Winter increases the chances of fire significantly. But a few simple changes and precautions will go a long way to reducing the risk of a home fire. Be careful with electric portable space heaters, never use extension cords to power them, use them for short term only. Barbecues and propane tanks should never be used indoors or even in a garage. If you use a wood stove or fireplace, only use seasoned hardwood. Any flammable objects should be at least a meter away from a heat source. Fireplace and wood stove chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year to prevent chimney fires. For fire detection make sure you have smoke detectors on every level of your home, it makes sense and is also the law. You can also upgrade your smoke detectors to be monitored. It also monitors for high heat in furnace rooms etc.
These 5 tips will go a long way to reduce the risks to your home. Now how about the home occupants? If the worst-case scenario happens and you’re snowed in or there is a blackout, you need to have an Emergency kit you can depend on that will keep you safe for a few days. It should include, some cash for emergency purchases, food and water to last a few days, a flashlight, extra batteries, a shovel, an alternative heat source like an emergency kerosene space heater, blankets and other important survival gear depending on where you live.