Keeping a safe home throughout the winter is important in reducing the risk of personal injury to you and your family. New England has begun to see a cold, wintery mix, and there is more to come according to the forecast for the upcoming days.

The following are helpful tips to keeping a safe home through the next few months of winter:

  • Keep your driveway and sidewalk clear. This is not only for your safety, but for the safety of anyone approaching your property.
  • Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are vulnerable to bursting in cold weather so be sure to drain all outdoor hoses and disconnect them from the faucet. Turn off the outside water lines and open the spigots to drain the standing water in the pipes.
  • Wrap outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated areas with an insulating material to prevent the pipes from freezing.
  • Keeping a slow, steady drip from an indoor faucet that is the furthest away from the main water pipe where the water enters the house can keep pipes from freezing.
  • If you own direct vent furnaces and water heaters, you need to be sure to keep the vents uncovered from snow to be sure they work properly.
  • Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and other debris to prevent ice dams from forming. The ice can block water from draining off the roof resulting in forcing water under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.
  • If necessary, hire a roofing contractor to clear the snow off of your roof. An icy roof is extremely dangerous and should be handled by a professional.
  • To avoid snow from melting and flooding your home, be sure to remove snow from basement stairwells, window wells and all walls.
  • In the event that you do get water in your home, turn off the electrical power until you speak to a professional and you are given the okay to turn it back on.
  • Keep the area around your mailbox clear, or if the box is on your house, clear a path for the mailman.
  • Winterize your home by installing weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows, and repair roof leaks.
  • Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly and ventilated to the outside.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Be prepared for weather-related emergencies, including power outages.
  • Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
  • Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit and extra medicine, and baby items if needed.

Following these tips will help you to keep a safe home throughout the long, cold, winter months. If you have elderly neighbors, it is good to check in and make sure they are okay and that they have everything they need. Lend a helping hand or contact their family members if they appear to need assistance in anyway.