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.
After a season of backyard cookouts, swimming, hopscotch, and bike riding, it’s time to tuck everything away and get your yardready 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.
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.
If you live in an area that’s swim season all year round, check out these pool safety products to keep your kids safe and pool in good condition.
Use ladders carefully
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.
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.
Your fireplace may be safe, but accidents happen. Consider adding a fire extinguisher to your fireside lineup of safety equipment too.
Inspect your furnace
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t forget the shed
All those valuable power tools and gardening goodies that live in your shed may be retired for winter, but one last sweep before it gets cold will keep your tool shed safe and clean. Be sure to add locks and secure your shed before the first snow hits.
During Halloween and Thanksgiving
Halloween and Thanksgiving are the two biggest holidays during autumn. While both are tons of fun, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind whether you’re carving a pumpkin or a turkey.
Pumpkin carving safety
Nothing says fall like a friendly jack-o-lantern on your front porch. If you and your kids decide to carve pumpkins this October, follow a few basic pumpkin carving tips to avoid accidents.
Be sure to supervise your little ones if they’re using a knife this year and don’t be afraid to take over for those tricky corners.
The best part is drying out the seeds and roasting them when you’re done. Yum!
As boys and ghouls dress up for Halloween, there are a few safety measures you can take to keep your little monsters safe during trick-or-treating.
Be sure to stick to a familiar route in your neighborhood and walk with a group if you can. Avoid trick-or-treating after dark, especially if your kids are wearing dark costumes. Add reflective tape to your kids’ costumes to make them extra visible, especially if they’re going door to door with their friends.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of common accidents that can happen on Halloween night. Check out our Halloween guide to learn what they are and how to avoid them.
Whether you’re welcoming family or hitting the road to visit them, Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy good food and good company. But too many cooks in the kitchen can be dangerous. Be sure to practice safe cooking and take measures to keep your home safe if you’re leaving town for the holiday.
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 a cup of cocoa. Follow these fall tips to make sure you can safely enjoy all the perks of this special season.
Fall safety FAQ
How can I lower my energy bill during fall?
As you switch from the AC to the heater, you can save energy in your home by investing in a smart thermostat.
You can also keep the curtains and shades down to keep heat in your home in and clean out the vents to help the warm air fill the rooms more efficiently. We have a complete energy-saving guide available for more ideas.
What are the biggest safety risks during fall?
Driving hazards and hazards from being in close quarters with others become more of a risk in fall.
As the weather gets colder, darker, and wetter across the country. Be careful of driving hazards like slick roads and change your windshield wipers before autumn sets in.
Fall is also a big season for deer. So be sure to watch for deer crossing signs by checking your headlights.
We also tend to stay inside more during fall and winter, so be sure to get your flu shot to avoid getting sick.
How can I prepare my home for winter?
Check your pipes before it gets cold to make sure your water supply is safe from freezing. You should also stock up on eco-friendly road salt to make your driveway and sidewalk safer to use. Check out our winter home safety guide for more information.
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