We begin every year with the same resolution: to help people and their loved ones stay safe. To keep that promise, we’ve come up with a month-by-month home maintenance and safety checklist. If you only have time for one or two safety tips from each category every month, choose those with the most SafeWise owls because we ranked each task by priority—one owl signifying the lowest and five the most important. Start the year off safer by implementing these tips in and around your home.
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- Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors by holding the “test” button until you hear the loud siren. If it’s silent, replace the batteries or purchase a new detector.
- Inspect your fire extinguisher’s pressure gauge to see if the needle is in the green and replace or service it if it’s outside this zone. Also, examine the hose and nozzle for cracks because you’ll need to replace your fire extinguisher if the locking pin on the handle is missing or the handle is broken.
- Create an emergency plan and practice different escape routes with your family.
- Store flashlights with fresh batteries in every room in case a winter storm knocks out your power.
- Compile or update your home inventory in case you need to file an insurance claim because of a blizzard or burglary.
- Organize your closets and donate items your family has outgrown or doesn’t use.
- Compile one file where you store instruction manuals, serial numbers, and important receipts, so you can access the information easily if something under warranty breaks or you need to fix a broken appliance.
- Post a safety resource contact sheet on your refrigerator that includes phone numbers for your doctors, police and fire departments, poison control, and emergency contacts. Accessing this information quickly in an emergency is vital to your safety.
- Check your range hood fan for signs up grease build up (which could cause a fire) and clean it regularly to keep it running and performing properly.
- Change refrigerator water and ice-maker filters every six months to remove contaminants that build up.
- Vacuum your refrigerator coils to remove dust and grime that could otherwise spark a fire.
- Deep clean your stove top and oven to prevent grease or oven fires.
- Clean your garbage disposal with baking soda, white vinegar, hot water, ice, and a lemon or lime to keep it fresh and clean.
- Clean and polish kitchen cabinets to remove any food or drink spills that have accumulated over the holidays. If you notice any loose handles, knobs, racks, tighten those up too.
- Check pipes for frozen water so they don’t burst and make sure pipes that are turned on stay above 32 degrees (Fahrenheit) by adding extra insulation or keeping cabinet doors open for better airflow!
- Change furnace filters every four to six weeks during the winter months, so your air stays clean while your furnace heats your home.
- Dust and wash your air vents to purify air quality inside your home.
- Deep clean and inspect your basement for any leaks, cracks, or mold that could become an issue if left unremedied.
- Flush your hot water heater once a year to remove sediment and mineral buildup and keep it working at its full capacity.
- Check your foundation for water accumulation or damage and call a professional for remediation if necessary.
- Pack away your holiday decorations and organize them in your storage area to reduce clutter in your home.
- Check water softener and add salt if necessary every eight weeks to avoid clogs in pipes.
- Replenish your first aid kit with all of the materials you used last year like band aids, anti-septic, gauze, and more.
- Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces to prevent grime from accumulating in the bowl.
- Unclog bathroom tub and sink drains by pouring boiling water mixed with baking soda or white vinegar directly down the drain.
- Check your roof for ice dams and icicles, so snow and ice doesn’t strain your roof, cause leaks, break gutters, or damage shingles.
- Clear out the leftover leaves and debris from your window wells and gutters. Otherwise, they could contribute to ice dams and damage your gutters in addition to causing leaks.
- Check your attic’s insulation by taking a tape measure to find the depth. If your measurement is less than 12 inches you should have a professional install more or your energy efficiency will suffer.
- Inspect your outdoor lighting to see if any lights need to be added or replaced. Well lit homes deter burglars and prevent injuries like falling on black ice.
- Research security cameras and systems and add them to your home’s exterior before peak burglar season begins in the summer.
You have the whole month of January to get these safety and maintenance tasks done, but the sooner you do the safer you’ll be.