Winter 2022-2023 is predicted to be a cold one for the U.S. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, much of the country will experience weather ranging from chilly to “hibernation zone.” As we settle into the winter months, a few safety recommendations and reminders are worthy of mention, for the home and workplace, to prevent winter insurance claims.
Tips to Prevent Winter Insurance Claims
1. Reduce slip and fall hazards: Insurance claims and lawsuits increase with injuries due to slips, trips and falls. Keep walkways and driveways clear of ice and snow by plowing, shoveling and using ice melting chemicals. Preapply de-icing chemicals before a storm, followed by snow/ice removal during and after the storm. Fix any problems with handrails or steps.
2. Avoid burst or frozen pipes: Installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system may protect against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes, and potentially prevent them from bursting. Know where the water shut-off valve is located. Install pipe sleeves, heat tape, or heat cables on pipes as insulation. Even a quarter inch of newspaper can provide some insulation to susceptible pipes. When experiencing a severe temperature drop, keep a trickle of water running in a faucet to help relieve pressure in your pipes and prevent freezing and bursting.
3. Prevent fallen branches and trees: Keep trees trimmed and remove dead branches and debris from your yard. Winter weather can weaken trees and cause branches to fall and potentially injure you, your home, your car and others.
4. Visit and inspect unoccupied homes: Homes that are vacant for an extended time experience three times the amount of damage from burst pipes. Regularly visit vacant and seasonally unoccupied homes to inspect for burst pipes and water leakage, or hire a caretaker.
5. Put away the garden hose: Remove all attached outdoor garden hoses, drain them and store them away properly. Shut off valves and insulate the faucet. Drain all water from supply lines for swimming pools, sprinklers, filters, fountains, and dog water stations.
6. Test your detectors: Residential fires are more common in winter, so it’s important that smoke detectors work. Check them monthly and replace batteries as needed. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.
7. Have heating checked: Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to clear any buildup and keep them running efficiently.
8. Keep your home warm: Set your thermostat for at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure your house or apartment is well insulated.
9. Clean the gutters: Prevent ice dams by cleaning out your gutters, installing gutter guards (if feasible), and making sure the attic floor is properly insulated. If gutter guards are not feasible, install a roof de-icing cable kit. Remember, the attic itself should be well ventilated and about 10 degrees warmer than outside.
10. Seal the cracks: Caulk around holes and openings to help prevent cold air from seeping in. Install weatherstripping and seals around openings such as windows, doors, air conditioners and mail chutes.
11. Prepare the car: Winterizing the car takes time, so it’s important to plan accordingly.
- Check your tire tread. Confirm you have enough tread on the tires to withstand icy road conditions. Replace tires with insufficient tread.
- Check the battery in the car. Cold weather negatively impacts your car battery’s life. Have an auto professional check your battery fluid and cables.
- Fill tires with air. Low air pressure in your tires creates hazardous road conditions. Check the tire pressure and fill your tires if needed.
- Get snow tires. If you live in an area that receives a substantial amount of snow, consider snow tires and/or chains if appropriate.
- Check the heater in the car. Heat in the car not only assures comfortable travel, but may save your life in the event of an accident while on the road or power failure in your home.
- Change your oil and antifreeze. Continue regular maintenance on your vehicle to prevent car troubles during the cold winter months.