Winterize your home

  • Written by Jeff LaFlam, Northshore Fire Dept.

winterize your home imageWith winter weather upon us, we worry about icy roads, frozen plants and just staying warm. Your home, whether it is an apartment, condo or house, also needs special attention this time of year. Freezing temperatures can cause substantial damage to buildings if you are not prepared.

Here are a few tips to help keep you and your home comfortable this winter:

1. Keep your pipes warm. Some of the most expensive winter damage comes from burst pipes. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and in outside walls are all vulnerable to freezing.

Make sure that pipes in cold areas are well insulated, keep sink cabinet doors open to allow warm air to reach the pipes and in severe conditions allow a slow trickle of water to flow through faucets that are connected to pipes running through unheated spaces.

When you leave your house set the thermostat to no lower than 55°F and if you will be gone for an extended period, consider shutting off your main water supply and draining the pipes by opening the faucets. If you suspect a frozen pipe, don’t take chances, call a plumber. NEVER try to thaw pipes with an open flame as this is a significant fire hazard.

2. Protect the outside of your house. Clean gutters and downspouts so water doesn’t back up and freeze. Cut back tree limbs that could break off and damage your roof. Disconnect garden hoses and protect outside faucets from freezing weather.

3. Prepare emergency kits. Put together an emergency kit for your home and one for your car. You should have a flashlight, batteries, a portable radio and warm clothing. You should also keep extra food and water at home and in your car. For more information on emergency kits, go to

4. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

One of the most significant winter hazards is carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the improper ventilation of furnaces, generators, portable fueled heaters and fireplaces. Install a CO detector on each level of your home.

While you’re making your home winter-ready, don’t forget fire safety. Test your smoke alarms monthly, take safety precautions with candles, fireplaces, cooking and smoking. These are all potential causes of devastating home fires.

Check out the additional safety information available at

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