5 Home Safety Tips While Keeping Warm this Winter

Sunny South Africa it may be, but that doesn’t mean we feel the wrath of winter any less. Sub-zero temperatures along with icy winds, sleet, rain and even snow are the types of weather we can experience in this part of the world. But for many of us, cold weather seems to take us by surprise every year, biting into our bones and leaving us hibernating in our homes until the spring wanders in. This means that we spend a fair amount of time indoors, enjoying our home comforts.

However, a fire or a burst water pipe can quickly put an end to such blissful comfort.

That is why it’s essential to have home maintenance and safety procedures that can help to mitigate the impact that a major household disaster could have on your life. But where to even start?

Take heed of these winter safety tips for your home that can help you to pre-empt any major catastrophes:

  1. Inspect your plumbing
    Ensure that external and internal pipes are weatherproof and make sure that there are no leaks or potential hazards. Cold weather leads to freezing, and frozen pipes can inevitably cause plumbing leaks or burst pipes, as can trapped debris and sediment. Ask a plumber to do a basic inspection every 1-2 years to ensure that everything is in order. It may seem like a small detail, but it can save you from the inconvenience of a burst or leaky water or sewerage pipe.
  2. Adhere to the golden rules of heating
    During winter weather, there's a definite increase in the user of heaters - whether wood, gas, infrared and coil to asbestos, oil, fan and radiator heaters. There are safety risks that come with using any type of heating, so it’s essential that you remain vigilant and adhere to the specific heating device warnings and instructions.

    ere are the golden rules of household heating:
    • Never use an electric oven to heat the house.
    • Keep children and pets at least one metre away from all heating units.
    • Never leave a heater unattended - this includes while you are sleeping.
    • Open fireplaces should always have a spark guard.
    • Always extinguish the fire in a fireplace before you go to bed.
    • When using gas heaters and fireplaces, ensure that the room is adequately ventilated.
    • Never leave a heater on when you leave the house.
    • Do not place objects directly on top of heaters and leave a one-metre object free space around heating units.
    • Always check cords and wiring on electrical heaters before using them and don’t use devices with frayed or damaged wiring.
    • Don’t use extension cords or multi-plugs for your heaters.
  3. Store and maintain your heaters correctly
    When it comes to your heaters, storage is another key tip to keeping your home safe during the winter. Here is a checklist to go through during the warmer months to ensure your heaters are safe to use when the cold sets in:
    • Give it a regular dusting – ensure that it’s kept free from dust and debris while being stored to avoid an increased risk of fire.
    • Check functionality once a month – turn the heater on each month to check that it’s in working order.
    • Check that the cord and plug are in good and working order.
    • If possible, keep the heater covered to prevent build-up and grime from setting in.
    • If you have a fixed fireplace, it should be maintained – an annual inspection of the insulation and chimney is a good idea. Also, keep an eye out for debris that can get trapped in the fireplace - have the chimney swept as a safety precaution every 1-2 years.
  4. Check your roof and ceiling
    This one is necessary if you have winter rainfall or frequent ice or sleet issues. This is because a small leak can become worse in the cold due to expansion and contraction in extreme temperatures. Also, check that roof shingles, tiles or sheets are correctly waterproofed to prevent leaks. Your ceiling and insulation are essential for keeping the heat in and cold out, so it’s also a good idea to check that these are in good working order to save on your heating bill.
  5. Check your gutters and drainage
    While you or your contractor is on the ladder inspecting your roof and ceiling, it may be a good time to check your gutters for leaves and other debris. If gutters and downpipes are clogged, clean them out to ensure water doesn’t become backed up, which can cause leaks and other long-term defects such as damp and mould.

Spare yourself the headache and inconvenience of household malfunctions and unforeseen glitches with these winter safety tips. Don't forget to share your own home safety tips with us!

In the event of an unavoidable problem, make sure that you have home insurancewith an insurer that continues to let you live your way. For affordable home, car or business insurance, get an online insurance quote from MiWay.

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