Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors:
Once a year, it is imperative that the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors be changed. For ease, make a habit of doing so at the same time each year.
Fast Fact: In newer homes, detectors are wired to 110V mains and therefore do not rely on batteries.
Regardless of whether your detectors are battery operated or hard-wired, be sure to test them regularly.
Time to restock that emergency kit! Check your flashlight for batteries and to see that it is functioning properly. Be sure to stock up on extra batteries as well as a battery operated radio in case of a power outage. Peruse your first aid kit and make sure it is well stocked with items such as: bandaids, gauze, disinfectant and an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. Assign fresh water reserves, approximately 5L per person, for each family member currently residing in your home. Add a multi-purpose tool with a pliers, cutter, screwdriver, etc. to your emergency supplies, it may prove handy in a pinch! A generator (and the gas to operate it) is another useful but often forgotten resource to combat Mother Nature’s fury.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, stock up on wood. Store wood in a dry place. Gas fireplaces, some of which are essentially connected to the grid may not be responsive during a power outage. Check to see if your source of heat is affected by a power outage and if it is, look into alternative heating options. Should you have a generator handy, be sure to run it outside the home and use an extension cord to operate an electric space heater indoors. Never operate a gas camping heater indoors without proper ventilation.
Check your home for air leaks. Gaps or openings around windows or doors, around switches, outlets or dryer vents may be prime locales for draughts. Caulk or seal these as necessary to avoid cold air from entering your home or hot air from escaping.
Insulation in your roof should be adequate to minimize heat loss. The best way to ensure that you have sufficient insulation in your home is to examine your roof following the first snowfall of the season. If you see patches of melted snow rather than uniform coverage, this may be a sign of heat loss due to insufficient insulation. This should be corrected as soon as possible to avoid an exorbitant heating expense.
Winterizing exterior faucets:
Do not forget to shut off your exterior faucets to prevent freezing. This can be done by turning off the shutoff valve normally located at the same location of the faucet accessible from the inside of your home.
Fast Fact: Newer homes have faucets with long bibbs that shut off the water supply inside the wall cavity where it is normally insulated and hence should not freeze.
Pools and hot tubs:
Contrary to what you may think, do not shut off your pool during the winter months as motionless water could freeze in the pipes. A burst pipe in your system can lead to a costly and unnecessary repair, even more so with underground piping. Nevertheless, should you wish to shut your system down, do so by making sure all pipes are thoroughly drained and that drain plugs are left open to avoid damage.
Garden sprinkler systems:
Your system should be winterized by draining it of water. You could enlist the help of a professional or undertake to do it yourself. If you have an air compressor at home, open any valves fitted to your system to drain as much water as possible and then, using compressed air and a nozzle, force the remaining water out of your system. Once the system is cleared, leave the valves open. This method should ensure that your pipes do not freeze during the winter months.
Protect your furniture by storing pieces in a dry, covered, pest- and temperature-controlled area to minimize wear and damage.
Clear your gutters of leaves and debris build up so as to allow water runoff and melting snow to quickly drain away.