Take preventive measures inside as well as outside the structure. Consider the following tips:
- Clean gutters so that rain and melting snow and ice can flow off the roof and away from the foundation. Water that cannot get away from the roof may back up under shingles, refreeze, and form an 'ice dam.' Ice trapped under shingles may seep into the house as it melts. The result is interior damage to ceilings and walls. Consider adding extra attic insulation to keep the highest level cold, and provide a second defense from melting ice dams.
- Trim overhanging trees and branches. Limbs can break under the stress of winter winds or heavy snow and ice. Proper pruning protects your roof from damage.
- Seal foundation cracks and holes. Keep cool air and moisture outside the structure to make the house warmer, and protect plumbing. Insulation sleeves and wrapping provide additional warmth and protection for exposed pipes. A frozen pipe will cause serious water damage if it bursts.
- Maintain the heating system. Statistics show there are more residential fires during the winter months. Heating equipment is often to blame. Furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps should be checked and serviced annually.
- Examine alternative heat sources as well. Inspect and confirm your fireplace, wood burning stove, and space heater are in good operating condition. Have a professional verify the chimney and wood burning stove are free of creosote. Creosote is highly flammable. Move combustible materials at least three feet away from the heat source.
- Replace batteries, and be sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work properly. Smoke detectors save lives by alerting those inside to get out quickly. Be certain they are operational, and that family members know what to do in the event of an emergency.