Owning a home is a little different than renting an apartment. This is especially true if you live out in the country or the suburbs, away from a large population of neighbors in the community. A lot of the things that we take for granted in city living, such as snow plows and street salting, don’t always happen when you get outside the main city streets. Not only are you sometimes isolated, but there are other responsibilities that you will need to take care of to ensure that you and your family stay safe during the winter months.
If you are a new home owner, or have recently moved to a new area in Southeastern Massachusetts, then these tips are for you. When you own your own home, you are the one that needs to shovel the driveway and make sure the sidewalk isn’t icy – there isn’t a team of maintenance workers or apartment managers to take care of it for you. This article will focus on all of the different things that Fall River homeowners will need to consider and take care of in winter.
The Basics: Be Prepared
Regardless of the time of year, every homeowner should have a disaster supply kit that contains a few basic items that could help your family out in an emergency situation. It should at least include a flashlight or a battery-operated lantern, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and/or juice, a manual can opener, non-perishable food items for at least 24 hours, extra clothing and blankets that can be used to provide warmth.
In addition to the basic emergency kit items, Fall River homeowners should consider adding special items that could be required in the event of a disaster or severe weather situation. Prescription medications, baby formula, pet food and any items required to support a baby, pet or family member that has special needs. Non-perishable food items and water for each member of your household plus one more, just in case you help a neighbor or have a guest, for anywhere between 72 hours and two weeks is recommended in case you get snowed in or power lines are down.
BONUS TIP – Invest in a good alternative heating source that can help keep you and your family warm in the event of an emergency. A fireplace with lots of wood or pre-packaged logs and matches; a generator with an electric space heater and extra fuel; or a propane fueled heater are just some of the options you should consider.
Advanced Tips: Heat and Water
Before the winter season hits it is important to make sure that you get an annual inspection done on your HVAC system, fireplace and any other alternative heating source in your home. Before installing or using any type of heating system other than what was installed in your home when you purchased it, check with local codes to make sure you properly install these items. Fuel sources should not be stored inside the home, but should be accessible in case of emergency. Never store flammable materials near a heat source.
Drain your water pipes if the power gets shut off in a snowstorm to prevent them from freezing up when it gets cold. Just shut off the hot water heater and the main water supply, then open up all of the faucets in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and any other areas so the pipes are completely emptied. Toilets can be drained by holding the lever down until the tank empties. Check the electric pump switch to make sure it is shut off if you use well water before draining the pressure tank and system.
BONUS TIP – Speak with your insurance agent to make sure that your homeowners insurance policy is up to date. Fall River homeowners can contact Sullivan Insurance to find out more tips to help them stay safe during the winter months at home here in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Outdoor Tips: Homeowner Responsibilities
As the owner of the property, Fall River homeowners are charged with removing any dead tree branches that could become heavy with ice and snow during the winter months. This extra weight combined with wintry winds, can cause dead tree branches to break and snap, resulting in damage to your home or vehicle.
Gutters can also build up quickly with snow and ice. They should be cleaned of debris after the leaves finally stop falling and the snow starts. Clogged gutters can cause serious water damage to your ceilings and walls when the ice starts to melt in the spring. Check with your homeowners insurance policy for information about responsibilities of owning a home with regard to what is covered and what is not.
BONUS TIP – Find out about local laws that may require you to shovel show in front of your home in Southeastern Massachusetts. Different states, as well as different cities and communities, have different laws that could be applied to Fall River homeowners. If you aren’t sure, speak with your Fall River insurance agent and check your homeowners insurance policy to see if you are covered if someone slips and falls on your property in the snow.
Stay Safe During the Winter in Southeastern Massachusetts
Fall River homeowners should check with their homeowners insurance policy to make sure that all of the information is accurate and up to date. Speak with your agent to find out about additional policies or riders that can be added to boost your insurance and protect you when you need it most. Call Sullivan Insurance in Fall River for more information!