Ottawa winters aren't always as mild as they were in 2016-2017 and forecasts show the upcoming winter will "be colder than normal". Fortunately, with accurate forecasting, you are able to prepare your home for winter weather.
As a homeowner, being aware of your risks and taking action to limit your liabilities can help protect your valuable assets. Homeowners insurance is to protect you after a claim but there are a number of things you can do to minimize the harsh effects of winter on your home.
Getting Your Home Ready for Winter
Do you remember the winter of 1998 that caused $5 billion in damage? Don't fret, below are a few things you can do today to prevent 'chilling' damage.
- Clean out your eavestroughs and downspouts of debris.
- Disconnect and drain your hoses from spouts. If possible, shut off the water access to help prevent frozen pipes.
- Inspect all weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent heat loss. This can also help lower your heating costs. While you're inspecting the weather stripping, also check the window panes for cracks or broken glass.
- Inspect your roof and watch for loose shingles which may cause leakage.
- Have your furnace inspected by a professional.
- Replace the air filter in your furnace.
- Test your carbon monoxide detector. Winter poses a greater risk to potential CO leaks. Smoke alarms are often the same device, but if you have separate detectors be sure to test them too.
- Consider replacing an older thermostat with a programmable or "smart" one. When away from your home, having your thermostat set at an appropriate temperature will help protect against frozen pipes.
- Ensure pipes are protected, especially in unheated areas of your home. Pipes in unheated areas should have appropriate insulation to help prevent freezing and bursting.
- Check your fireplace for drafts. If it's cold with a closed damper, you may need to replace the damper.
- Protect your gardens and flowerbeds by wrapping shrubs/trees and using fallen leaves as mulch.
- Clean, dry, and store your patio furniture in secure places such as a shed or garage.
- Sealing your driveway can help protect it from the cold weather.
- Ensure all outdoor lighting is in good working condition.
- Store all non-winter tools in a secure place such as in your home, shed, or garage. Prevent rust by spraying them with a lightweight oil.
- Tune up your snowblower and stock up on sidewalk ice, sand, boots, mitts, toques, and everything to keep you warm.
Protect Your Home From Common Fire Risks Around the Holidays
Fires claim the lives of 8 Canadians every week. December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires, and deaths are most common in winter months when people tend to use lighting, heating, and appliances more often.
Prepare an emergency disaster kit that includes the following items:
- 12 litres of water per family member
- Canned food for at least 3 days
- Pet foods and supplies for 3 days
- Toilet paper
- Extra personal hygiene items
- Unscented bleach
- Books, games, and other forms of entertainment
- Paper and pencils
- Battery-operated or wind-up radio and/or TV
- Flashlight (and extra batteries)
- First-aid kit