Old Man Winter can be a real bear of a house guest. He often arrives with little warning, and is famous for overstaying his welcome. Now is the time to make sure his stay is a bit more hospitable this year.
The key to a more manageable winter is to prepare your home for challenges early. As temperatures drop, fire risk goes up. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, half of all home heating fires occur in the months of December, January and February. Heating equipment is the cause of one in every six of those fires.
Erie Insurance offers these tips for keeping your home warm, safe and dry this winter.
Weatherize Windows and Doors: Cold air loves to slither through windows and doors, sending everyone shivering—and your heating bills through the roof. Combat the chill by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping, and caulking any cracks.
Fireplace vs. Fire Hazard: Have your fireplace and flue system cleaned by a professional to ensure it is clear of soot or ashes and there aren’t any cracks that could be a fire hazard. Check the fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper may need repaired or replaced.
Check your Heating System: Get an annual furnace cleaning-and-check done by a professional to ensure the furnace is heating efficiently and safely. If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs. Also, try to limit the amount of time you use space heaters. Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Block the drafts: Place foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce airflow. Check for exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks that invite the outside air in.
Safety First: Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. You can create one using the National Fire Prevention Association’s online guide.
Cold weather is here. By taking action now, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the season.