winter weather

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

With the holiday season approaching, I know many of us are starting to think about decorating our homes. This is often a fun experience for family members of all ages, but I do want to urge caution, as decoration-related injuries are unfortunately fairly common.

The good news is that you can reduce the risk of injury and stay focused on the true joys of the season by taking precautions and keeping safety considerations top of mind. Here are a few such hazards to consider: 

  • According to the National Fire Protection Associationone-third of home decoration fires are caused by candles, and two out of every five decoration fires result from placing decorations too close to heat sources. As you decorate, be sure to keep candles away from anything flammable and out of reach from children. It’s also a good idea to double-check that smoke alarms and fire extinguishers have fresh batteries and work correctly in case a fire does break out.
  • As you decorate your home, avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations. If you notice lights flickering or dimming or hear a buzzing noise coming from your outlet, you may have overloaded the circuit. It’s best to use surge protectors and power strips to distribute the load safely and regularly check cords and plugs for any signs of wear or damage.
  • A common injury we see during the holidays is people falling off of ladders. When hanging decorations or stringing lights, make sure you have the right sized ladder for the job and avoid getting on a ladder if you’ve been drinking. A safety “rule of thumb” is to make sure to always maintain three points of contact while climbing a ladder.
  • If you have young children or pets, consider their safety when selecting decorations. Opt for non-breakable and child/pet-friendly decorations to prevent accidents and potential injuries. Be mindful of anything that could be a choking hazard or, worse, poisonous.

I hope these are helpful for you as you start to prepare your home for the holidays. As always, if you have any questions or need anything during the holidays, I’m just a call away. Enjoy your holiday season.

Winterizing your Vehicle for Colder Temperatures

With the arrival of winter, I wanted to remind you about the importance of winterizing your vehicle for the upcoming colder months.

As you know, winter weather presents numerous challenges on the road, like icy conditions and reduced visibility. Properly preparing your vehicle can help ensure your safety and minimize the risk of accidents or breakdowns.

Here are a few tips to help you to do just that: 

  • Fill up your tires. As the temperature drops outside, so does the tire inflation pressure. That’s why you should check your tire pressure more regularly in the winter months and ensure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation (which you can find in your owner’s manual). 
  • Have your battery tested. Cold weather can strain your vehicle’s battery. In fact, when temperatures go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, car batteries lose 35% of their strength. With that in mind,  it’s crucial to have your battery tested before winter weather or temps hit to ensure it’s in good condition.
  • Replace windshield wipers and washer fluid. Windshield wipers are essential to your safety if you happen to be caught in icy conditions. You may want to consider temporarily installing winter wipers, which can better handle ice or snow. At the minimum, however, replace any worn windshield wipers, and make sure your windshield washer fluid is at appropriate levels.
  • Make an emergency kit for your car. It’s always good to have all the essentials in your vehicle in case of a breakdown or emergency. Supplies you may want to stock your car with include:
    • Ice scraper
    • Jumper cables
    • Flashlight
    • Blanket
    • Cell phone charger

I hope these tips are a helpful safety reminder this winter. You can visit the United States Department of Transportation website for more winter weather driving tips. And if you have questions or concerns about your auto coverage or other insurance needs, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Stay safe.

Winter Prep Tips for Homeowners

As colder weather arrives, so do certain winter-related home issues. With that in mind, I wanted to reach out with a few helpful prep tips to ensure your home remains warm, cozy, and well-protected from the cold weather this winter:

  1. Consider weatherstripping and insulation – Cold air can easily seep into your home through gaps and cracks around windows and doors, making your home chilly and driving up your energy bills. Inspect these areas and consider applying weatherstripping or caulking to seal any openings. Lowes has a great DIY guide to follow if you need instruction.
  2. Use window sheet kits – If your windows lack double-panel or storm windows, consider using plastic-film sheet kits available at your nearby hardware store. While these kits are designed for a single season’s use, they can significantly enhance energy efficiency and effectively block cold winter drafts without having to install completely new windows.
  3. Clean gutters and downspouts – Thoroughly clear any debris, leaves, or twigs from your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can prevent drainage, damaging your roof and causing severe leaks. 
  4. Winterize outdoor faucets – Disconnect all hoses or devices connected to outdoor spigots and drain any water left behind in the pipes. If you have in-ground sprinkler systems, have them blown out to remove any water. Remember to turn off the water supply to the outdoor spigots to prevent pipe damage in the event your pipes freeze.
  5. Evaluate home security  Winter nights provide longer periods of darkness, making it important to ensure your home is secure. Test outdoor lights and replace bulbs as needed. Consider installing motion-sensor lights to deter potential intruders. It’s also advisable to have a reliable home security system in place.
  6. Get wood-burning fireplaces and chimneys inspected – Doing so can prevent chimney fires, which account for over 20,000 residential fires every year. A clogged chimney or flue also increases your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. You can find a certified chimney sweep here

Hope this is a helpful reminder as we approach the coldest months of the year. Feel free to forward this on to friends and family. And, as always, if any questions or needs arise this winter, please don’t hesitate to reach out. That’s what I’m here for!

Winter Prep Tips for Business Owners

As colder weather approaches, we tend to see an increase in property concerns from our clients. With that in mind, I wanted to reach out with a few helpful tips to ensure your space remains safe, functional, and well-prepared for the challenges of winter.

  1. Ensure proper insulation: Check for any drafts or cold spots inside your space, and consider applying weatherstripping or caulking to seal any openings. Insulate around windows and doors to prevent heat loss, maintain a comfortable working environment, and save on energy costs.
  2. Keep pathways clear: Regularly clear snow and ice from entrances, parking lots, and walkways to prevent slips and falls. Use salt or ice melt to ensure safe passage for employees and visitors.
  3. Schedule a roof and gutter inspection: Have your roof inspected for any signs of damage or potential leaks. Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear of debris to prevent ice dams and water accumulation, which can cause damage to your property.
  4. Make an emergency preparedness plan: Review your emergency procedures with staff and ensure they are well-prepared for potential winter-related incidents, such as power outages or severe weather conditions. Stock essential supplies like flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, and non-perishable food items.
  5. Winterize your plumbing systems: Prevent frozen pipes by insulating exposed pipes and providing adequate heating in vulnerable areas. Identify any areas where pipes may be at risk and take necessary precautions. Have a trusted plumber inspect your plumbing systems to identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

As always, reach out with any questions. Wishing you a successful and worry-free winter season for your business!

Reducing Winter Unility Bills.

With winter temps dropping, it can be very costly to maintain a comfortable home. Here are several ways to stay warm and cozy, while resisting the urge to move that needle on your thermostat.
Seal areas around windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping as well as insulating your water heater to prevent heat loss. Ensure vents and radiators are not blocked and keep curtains and blinds open during the day to allow sunlight to warm your home. Replace your furnace filters regularly and have your HVAC inspected by a professional before the cold weather kicks in.
Fixing leaky faucets and using energy efficient lightbulbs are additional ways of saving energy. Unplugging electronics that are not in use is also very helpful.
These are just a few ways to help minimize your utility costs and stay warm this winter.
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