5 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe in the Winter

1. Trim your trees
Identify any large, dead tree branches that hang over your home, and try to remove them before the first big snow. When these branches become laden with snow and ice, they can fall and do a lot of damage to your windows and roof. Keep an eye out for branches in your own yard that could fall on a neighbor’s house, as well. You don’t want to be liable for your neighbor’s injuries or damages!

2. Clear your walkways
It’s no secret that icy walkways become safety hazards in the winter. Put down a layer of salt or sand before it snows, and shovel your walkways as soon as possible afterwards. Then put down another layer of salt after you’ve shoveled so that slippery ice doesn’t form on the cleared surface. Make sure to practice safe shoveling, as well! Moving wet, heavy snow can put you at risk for back injuries, so make sure to lift with your knees instead of your back. A snow blower is a great investment if you live in an area with heavy snowfall.

3. Schedule an annual chimney inspection
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, your chimney likely needs an annual inspection to make sure that soot and dirt are not blocking proper airflow. Creosote, which is a highly combustible residue, can build up in dirty chimneys and put your home at risk for a chimney fire.

4. Clean your gutters
Ice and frozen leaves can collect in your gutters during the winter, weighing them down and potentially causing them to break. Snow-laden gutters can also introduce water into your home if the buildup gets too extreme. Clear your gutters before the first big snow, and maintain them periodically throughout the winter. Look for larger icicles to clue you in to areas with water buildup. You should also clear out icicles from your gutters while they’re small because large icicles can be dangerous to anyone walking below.

5. Keep track of air quality
Because everyone spends more time inside during the winter, more dust will accumulate in your home. Make sure to clean or change your air filters regularly—especially in the kitchen and bathroom, as these areas tend to produce more airborne particles. Poor air quality is bad for your health and can even pose a fire hazard when your home’s ventilation is compromised.

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