This winter, periods of extreme cold can create unexpected and unpleasant emergency situations within your home. Fireplaces, wood stoves, electric heaters and old furnaces that are not checked regularly can be a hazard to you and your loved ones. Careful planning is necessary to keep your home comfortable.
Windows, doors garage door, water pipes and roof:
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ten percent of the air in a home leaks out of the windows.
- Wash your windows to check for cracks and damage.
- Caulk around your windows and use weather-stripping.
- Storm windows should be installed over older windows.
- Polyurethane sprays can be applied over old steel garage doors.
- Garages should be insulated.
- Roofs should be continually checked for missing shingles and other possible damage.
- Pipes should be insulated if they are exposed to cold under freezing temperatures.
- Have a professional inspect your furnace every year to make sure it is functioning correctly.
- It is a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector installed or checked in addition to all smoke alarms.
- Do change or clean furnace filters at least once a month. Filters will improve the airflow and heat efficiency.
- Never use the oven to heat your home.
Fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters:
The National Fire Protection Agency claims that over 66,000 house fires occurred in the US in 2008 that were due to electric heat sources.
- Space heaters cause the most fires because they are generally too close to flammable material such as curtains or bedding.
- Always turn them off when leaving the room.
- Make sure a chimney specialist checks the flue every year.
- Install a screen around the fireplace to protect children or make sure doors are closed.
- Check the gas fireplace switch and report any smells that are not typical.
Snow and ice equipment:
- Sodium chloride is the best to use since de-icers and rock salt generally do not work well in temperatures below 25 degrees.
- Calcium magnesium acetate won’t harm the environment and is less corrosive than salt.
- Some use nitrogen fertilizer instead of salt, which is also less disruptive on the concrete and car.
- Rubber heat-conducting mats and ground thawing blankets can also help melt snow.
- Roof rakes are available for easy snow removal with extension handles.
- Check snow blower for gas levels and efficiency.
Winter blizzards and cold weather can create cozy hours at home to share together, snuggled in front of the fireplace and sipping hot chocolate. But homes that are not prepared for the harsh weather can pose a threat to the lives of you and your loved ones. All families should keep emergency kits and life insurance policies up to date, especially during this time of year.