Fire and ice: winter property damage woesProperty damage comes in many forms and in every season. In winter, it often comes in two temperatures as well: hot and cold. Here are some trouble spots for you to be aware of so you can help avert some common winter property damage woes.

Hot Spots for Trouble

Fire plays a greater role in our homes during the colder months. From fires in fireplaces and wood stoves to candles used to create a festive glow, opportunities abound for accidents. Add holiday decorations and space heaters into the mix, and it’s no wonder the number of house fires soars during the winter.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure your fireplace/stove, chimney and flue are clean and in good working order. It’s worth the cost for a professional cleaning to prevent a chimney fire. Always make sure the fire is fully extinguished before you turn in for the night.
  • Keep flammable items well away from fire, including rugs and carpeting, in case of a stray spark. Install a metal or glass safety screen and use it whenever a fire is lit.
  • When using a space heater, make sure it is on a stable surface and well away from anything flammable. Turn it off when you leave the room.
  • In your zeal for holiday decorating, don’t overload electrical outlets. Be sure to turn everything off when you aren’t home and when you go to bed.
  • Trim wicks to about ¼ inch before lighting candles, and make sure there is plenty of clearance and nothing flammable around them. Don’t leave candles burning in unoccupied rooms, and extinguish them before bed.
  • Put a functional fire extinguisher in an easy-to-access spot, and make sure everyone in your home knows how to use it.
  • Have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed on every floor of your home and outside each bedroom, and change the batteries at the start of the season.

Icy Issues

There are many ways fire can damage your home, but ice is also responsible for a big number of property damage insurance claims each winter. Here are a few ways to avoid icy issues:

  • To prevent frozen pipes that can burst, don’t set your thermostat lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even if you are away for an extended period.
  • Disconnect outdoor hoses and use an indoor valve to shut off water to the outside. Drain water from outside faucets before temps freeze.
  • Address ice dams, which can cause water to back up and seep through shingles, causing water damage and mold inside your home.

New England Experience

We were founded in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1898, so we know a thing or two about New England winters and the havoc they can wreak on a home. If it’s been a while, contact us for a review of your homeowners insurance policy to make sure it’s up-to-date and you understand what it covers. We can also make recommendations for areas where you may want to add or reduce your coverage.