If you’re like most people, you’re making plenty of lists this time of year—for gifts, party guests, and those endless holiday chores. But have you thought of drawing up a home-safety checklist? Why do this now? Because it’s smart to make sure your home is safe and secure before holiday guests arrive, winter weather settles in, or you take an extended vacation.
We know you’re busy, so we’re giving you a head start. Use these suggestions to customize a list for your home and be sure to check it twice—like a certain other hardworking person this time of year—so you can avoid having to make an insurance claim during the holiday season.
EXAMINE YOUR PLUMBING
- Look for leaks. Inspect the area around the refrigerator, washer, dishwasher, water heater, sinks, and toilets for drips, puddles, and discolored and warped flooring. If you find any of the above, call a plumber as soon as possible.
- Take protective measures, when necessary. If you’re going on a lengthy trip, consider turning off the water main before you go. That way, you won’t return to a kitchen flooded by a leak that started when you weren’t around to catch it.
- Clean your dryer exhaust vent. Even if you religiously remove lint from the lint trap, some can get caught in the hose that connects your dryer to the vent outside your house, and it can cause a fire. Run a long, flexible brush in circles around the vent to clear it out.
- Call your HVAC specialist/chimney sweep. Before you start using the fireplace and heater, have your heating and air-conditioning system and chimney inspected, cleaned, and maintained.
- Install or check smoke detectors. Residential fires increase in the winter months. If needed, put fresh batteries or replace nonworking units. While you’re at it, do the same with your carbon monoxide detector.
- Use fireplace screens. Make sure they’re properly installed in front of every fireplace and stable enough to catch any flying debris or sparks.
WEATHERPROOF YOUR HOUSE
- Clean your rain gutters and roof valleys. Remove debris such as leaves and twigs, so those gutters and valleys can carry away rainwater, which can pool and damage your roof.
- Check your roof for signs of wear. With a good pair of binoculars, survey your shingles. If any are torn, loose, or missing, make an appointment with a roofer and get an estimate for repairs.
- Trim your trees. Cut branches back far enough that they wont land on your roof or crash into your windows and cause damage in a storm.
- Inspect your windows and doors. Repair cracked caulking around windows and replace old or damaged weather stripping around doors so they won’t leak in a rainstorm.
HANDLE HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
- Place candles in sturdy containers. Make sure they won’t tip over, and place them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. Even better, use flameless candles.
- Be cautious with Christmas trees. Water a fresh tree daily and keep it at least 3 feet away from anything that could cause it to combust, such as fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles, or heat vents. Avoid using strings of lights that are frayed or broken or have loos bulbs, which can short out and start a fire.