We all know to dress to stay warm before venturing out on a winter day, but there are a few topics worthy of a reminder since they are not often top of mind as we go through each day. Our pets depend on us to keep them safe in the cold. Likewise, two winter-related home risks that need our attention are pipe-freezing and home fires caused by space heaters. We have gathered advice and tips from the experts to help you have a safe and comfortable winter for yourself and your pets.
Bring your pets in from the cold
Some pets are more tolerant of extremely cold temperatures than others, but that does not mean that they are not just as vulnerable to the harmful effects. It’s up to you as the pet owner to protect them. Many pets — especially dogs — aren’t aware of just how cold the weather can be. You’ll have to be sensitive to their limits, and you may have to wrap your pet in a coat or boots to go outside. The ASPCA offers the following advice to help keep your pets safe as temperatures plummet.
- Just as leaving your pet in your car when it’s hot can be deadly, so can leaving them in your car when it’s cold. The car traps the cold air and acts like a refrigerator, causing the animal to freeze.
- Keep your pets safely indoors during extremely cold weather that can cause them to be disoriented or actually freeze. How to know when it’s too cold for your pet to be outside: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
- Protect your pet from drafts and give them a warm place to sleep that is off the floor such as a dog or cat bed. Adding a warm blanket or pillow will help as well.
- Because your pets burn extra energy to stay warm when it’s cold, they’ll require extra food for the calories they’ll need. Likewise, extra water for extra hydration will help prevent dry skin
Keep pipes from freezing
When temperatures reach freezing, it is especially important to protect the water pipes in your home so that they do not freeze and potentially burst. If your pipes are on an outside wall or above an unheated space, such as a garage, the best precaution, especially if you lose heat or power, is to run water at a trickle in sinks and bathtubs. This keeps the water moving through your pipes and makes it more difficult to freeze.
See this article from the American Red Cross for much more about preventing and thawing frozen pipes.
Take great care when using space heaters
According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) study, space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for 2 of every 5 home heating fires and 4 out of 5 home heating fire deaths. Placing flammable items too close to the heater was most frequently the cause of the fire.
The folks at Energy.gov offer the following advice for buying and installing small space heaters.
- Purchase only a newer model heater equipped with current safety features and carrying the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
- To avoid wasting energy by overheating a room, select a heater that is appropriately sized for the space to be heated; and be sure that it is thermostatically-controlled.
- Be sure that your space heater is placed away from foot traffic, out of the reach of pets and children. Be sure that the heater sits level so that it will not tip over.
Homeowners Insurance Tip
The winter months are the worst for home fires. You’ll want to be sure that your homeowners insurance policy offers you the best coverage for your circumstances. Spend some time inspecting your home to be sure that your heating system, fireplace and space heaters are installed and maintained properly well before you have the need to ever file a homeowners insurance claim. Speak with your insurance agent for advice and to discuss your coverage options.
Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance either in Germantown or Frederick, MD to discuss any home insurance-related questions. We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.