Turning leaves and cooler days mean it’s time to bundle up in sweaters and sip pumpkin spice lattes. It’s also the time of year you need to get your home, yard, and family ready for the coming winter. To enjoy this cozy season free from worry, follow our guide to autumn home safety.
Stay Safe in Your Yard
After a season of backyard cookouts, swimming, hopscotch, and bike riding, it’s time to tuck everything away and get your yard ready for the changing weather. Here’s all you need to do to keep everyone safe and sound as summer gives way to fall.
Take care of leaves.
Bright foliage is the most obvious sign of fall—but those golden and crimson piles can harbor hidden dangers. Wet leaves can make walkways slippery and promote the growth of mold in your yard. Regularly rake up fallen leaves to keep your driveway and sidewalks clear, and mulch raked leaves or dispose of them in bags according to your city’s requirements. Warn children to stay out of leaf piles—especially those along curbs because kids could trip or sprain an ankle—and supervise all leaf play.
Here are all the leaf cleanup supplies you need to get the job done right.
Getting the pool ready for colder temperatures can be a chore. You need to lower the water level and balance its chemistry to prevent against freezing—otherwise, the water may expand and either crack surrounding cement or overflow and cause a slippery layer of ice to cover the sidewalk. Make sure to also winterize the plumbing, safely store all pool accessories, and cover up your pool.
Your pool cover needs to be properly secured and fit tightly—there should be no holes or gaps where leaves and other debris could get in. Avoid solid pool covers, as they are safety hazards and require pumps to remove rainwater and melted snow.
Here’s a look at some useful items to help you protect your pool all autumn long.
From pruning trees to cleaning out rain gutters, many fall maintenance activities require ladders. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, position the ladder on a flat surface, and have someone around to spot you. Even the most seasoned handyman can have a mishap, and you stand a better chance of mitigating potential injury if someone is around to offer help.
Stay Safe in Your Home
Not all autumn maintenance happens outside. As you prepare to spend more time indoors, it’s important to verify that your fireplace and furnace are in good repair—and that you’re prepared in the event a fire does happen.
Maintain your fireplace.
Nothing’s better than gathering around a crackling fire, so be prepared for cozy upcoming nights by ensuring your fireplace is free of soot, creosote buildup, and potential bird nests. You can check your fireplace yourself, but a safer option is to call a professional chimney sweep. Once you start using your fireplace, make sure you regularly remove ashes and debris and have a screen to keep sparks from escaping.
Here are a couple handy items to keep your fireplace up to snuff.
Just like people, furnaces need annual checkups. Have a professional inspect your furnace in the fall to ensure that everything works properly. Maintenance issues could potentially present hazards to your family and home. In addition, you should regularly replace the air filters in your furnace—use filters that provide extra protection against allergens if anyone in your household suffers from allergies.
Here are two furnace filters that will help keep your home’s air clean and your furnace safe.
Furnaces, fireplaces, and scented candles are used all autumn long, which means you need smoke alarms that are armed and ready. Replace batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make this a habit each year when you turn the clock back for daylight savings time. If you live in a time zone without daylight savings, make this a must-do task on the first day of autumn.
These batteries should cover all your household needs.
It’s easy to turn the garage into a depository of all the things you plan to do later. There’s no time like the changing of the season to clean up and clear out what could become dangerous clutter.
Throw out old papers.
Stacks of old magazines and newspapers in your garage are fire hazards waiting to happen. Gather up these accumulated items and drop them off in a recycling bin. If you need to hold on to some old papers, store them in a plastic or metal storage bin—not a cardboard box—away from heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.
Here are a couple of the best storage containers for your garage.
Leftover chemicals also tend to pile up in the garage. Check with your local Environmental Protection Agency branch to find out the proper way to dispose of hazardous chemicals like pesticides, fuels, and cleaning supplies. If you have flammable or poisonous materials that you need, store them out of reach of children, in clearly-marked containers, and away from your furnace and water heater.
Autumn is a great time to gather with family and friends to enjoy the colors of the season or warm up inside with a nice fire and cup of cocoa. Follow these fall tips to make sure you can safely enjoy all the perks of this special season.
*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more