Safety Guide for Winter: 7 Ways to Keep your Home Safe

Written by | Updated December 21, 2016


The seasons are changing, and visions of sugar plums are replacing fall leaves and jack-o’-lanterns. As the days get shorter, it’s time to ready your home for the coming winter. Use these seven winter safety tips to make sure you and your family aren’t left out in the cold.

1. Winterize Your Pipes

During winter, outside water can freeze and burst exterior pipes. Rather than letting this happen, take precautions to prevent frozen pipes by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining any water left in outdoor spigots. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, drain it as well.

If the temperature will drop below freezing overnight, leave exterior faucets trickling to avoid the pressure buildup that causes burst pipes. You can also avoid frozen and burst pipes inside your house by insulating your home and pipes. Use foam, heating cables, or pipe sleeves, and seal any cracks in your home’s exterior.

The tools below will help you winterize your pipes.

2. Inspect Your Roof

Before the first snowfall, check your roof for damaged, loose, or missing shingles that may leak when snow melts or during severe storms. Make sure seals around chimneys and vent stacks are intact as well. If they aren’t, you can make repairs yourself or hire a handyman.

Finally, clear all leaves, pine needles, and other debris from your roof as these can hold moisture over the winter and cause rot if left unattended.

These tools will help you repair your roof.

3. Prepare for a Power Outage

Heavy snows and ice can take down power lines and leave you in the cold and dark. Be ready for anything with a generator, and keep a stash of batteries for flashlights and lanterns on hand, too.

You may also want a radio to keep you up to date on news and when the power outage will end—look for one that uses solar power, requires batteries, or a has hand crank. A hand-crank or solar-powered cellphone charger is another great way to keep in touch with family, friends, and neighbors until the storm passes.

These devices will help you in the event of a power outage.

4. Repair Outdoor Lighting

Winter days are short, which means you spend more time in the dark. Make sure you, your family, and visitors have a well-lit path to your home by ensuring your outdoor lights work and your fixtures are firmly secured.

Replace outdoor lightbulbs to guarantee strong lighting throughout the whole season. You may even consider using lightbulbs with motion sensors or smart lightbulbs that you can automate and control with your smartphone.

These lightbulbs will make sure the path to your home is lit all winter long.

5. Prevent Icicles and Ice Dams

Icicles look charming, but they present multiple hazards, including risk of injury and ice dams—which damage the outside of your home and cause meltwater to get inside. Ice dams occur when there are air leaks in your home or inadequate insulation in your attic.

Ask a professional to identify and correct these potential problems before it’s too late, and if you end up with icicles on your home, it’s best to hire a professional to remove them. For those who attempt DIY removal, wear a hardhat and safety glasses, and always warn children to avoid icicles.

Use this protective gear to stay safe while removing icicles.

6. Keep Your Driveway and Walkways Clear

One of the best ways to keep your family and friends safe is to remove snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways. Prepare for snow by making sure your snow shovels are in good repair and giving your snowblower or plow a tune-up.

After it snows, immediately plow or shovel all trafficked areas. Follow up with ice melt or rock salt on steps and walkways to prevent ice buildup. Always wear protective clothing like gloves and hats to prevent frostbite.

Stay safe while you manage your walkways with these tools.

7. Fight Germs

Illnesses thrive in winter months, and being cooped up inside makes everyone more susceptible to viruses and bacteria, so keep your family safe by going on the offense against germs and letting fresh air in whenever possible. Keep your house a little cooler so the environment is less friendly for viruses—drop the thermostat by five degrees and use a humidifier.

Make sure everyone in your household washes their hands frequently with antibacterial soap and regularly changes their toothbrushes. You can also pop toothbrushes in the microwave for about ten seconds to help kill germs.

These items can help keep your household free of germs.

Winter brings snow, ice, and long nights. You can’t keep it from coming, but with these safety tips you will be prepared to survive and enjoy this winter like a pro.

*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products and tips. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when choosing products.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. ou 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

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