White Christmas? 6 Things To Do To Keep Your Home Safe As Soon As It Starts To Snow
Caeva O'Callaghan | December 18th, 2019
The kids may be in a festive mood, but grown-ups know all too well the holiday season can spell home insurance nightmares if things go wrong.
Burglaries are enough to worry about during the winter months – but complications from bad weather is also an increasing concern as climate change means our winters are more intense.
Luckily, there are many things adults can do to keep things running smoothly so they can feel like a kid at Christmas.
Prevent freezing pipes
Water expands as it freezes, and if your pipes get cold enough the ice inside will make them crack and burst. This also happens if pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice – for example, if a pipe develops ice outdoors but runs into your home where it’s warmer.
Burst pipes cause massive damage and potentially catastrophic claims, so keep taps dripping in very cold weather to prevent ice build-up. Drain water from outdoor taps and cover them with foam insulation (or an old sock), and disconnect and store hosepipes and sprinkler systems.
Also, make sure to insulate water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home, such as the loft, cellar, or garage.
Stop ice dams
Ice dams form when heat escapes through your roof and melts any settled snow. This water flows to your roof’s edge and refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those pretty icicles? They’re a sign a nasty ice dam is forming underneath – and slowly melting snow can’t properly drain, potentially causing a leak in your roof and water damage in your home.
Clogged gutters and downspouts are the number one cause of ice dams, so clear them of autumn leaves soon before the first snow to keep things flowing as they should. Insulate your attic well so that snow isn’t melted by escaping heat, and you’ll enjoy the added benefit of lower energy bills.
Clean fireplaces and chimneys
If you’re lucky enough to have a wood-burning stove or real fireplace, check it’s clean and free of birds’ nests before you before you light up your first cosy fire of the season.
One danger of an unswept chimney is that soot and debris may catch fire. Get in a professional chimney sweep to do the job, and keep your home’s warm air from escaping out the chimney when you’re not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way. If it’s working properly, you shouldn’t be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney.
Stock up on winter essentials
We don’t mean chocolate oranges and Baileys (although, ‘tis the season) – there are several inexpensive household items that are even more important to keep around if you see a heavy grey sky this winter.
Snow and storms bring power cuts, shut shops and slips and falls. You’ll need candles and plenty of matches or lighters (with enough fuel), a well-stocked first aid kit including personal medication to last a couple of weeks, non-perishable food for a minimum of three to five days (including baby formula if you need it), bottles of water, toilet paper, soap, lots of blankets, torches plus extra batteries. It’s also good to have a working, fully charged fire extinguisher, as well as sand, road salt, and a shovel.
Clear paths and walkways
Even if you don’t plan to venture outside in the snow and ice, you may still be liable if someone injures themselves on your property and it’s best to keep walkways clear in case of emergency.
Road and path salt is readily available from many shops, and you should sprinkle this at the first sign of snow. You may have heard that cat litter makes a cost-effective solution – it does not, and the clumping kind is especially useless for traction.
You should also shovel driveways and the pavement outside your house – or ask the kids to do it for a bit of extra pocket money.
Inspect your security
You don’t need to be going away on vacation to be vulnerable over Christmas. It’s a notoriously high-crime time of year, and even occupied houses are more likely to be hit – so secure your house now to make it unattractive for opportunists.
Lock all garden gates and entry points you’re unlikely to use over winter, such as garages or outbuildings if they contain tools that are valuable or easy to grab – a burglar may use them to force entry. Make sure outdoor lights are working, consider investing in a home alarm system, and don’t leave packaging from large or expensive gifts outside: stuff it down into the appropriate recycling bin, covered by less attractive rubbish.
Use these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy a stress-free Christmas without having to worry about the weather, intruders, or emergencies.
What to do when something goes wrong?
That’s why you have home insurance in place. It gives you peace of mind, knowing when something happens, that you are covered! Remember, it’s important to check with your insurer what level of cover you have in place for your property and contents. You can do this anytime not just at renewal time.
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