Fall is a wonderful time — if your home is ready for it. So enjoy the last few weeks of warmer weather, but do a little preventative maintenance while you’re at it. You’ll fix small problems before they become big, and big ones before they become catastrophes. Here are 10 tips to help:
- Look up. Examine your roof closely. Moss should be removed and debris cleared from gutters and downspouts. Repairing damage is crucial before fall weather is in full swing.
- Look down. Check for signs of animals and insects around your home and garage, including the basement and crawlspace. If you need help getting unwanted guests out, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional.
- Keep things warm. Heat escapes through leaks around windows and doors, so seal up any drafty areas. Outside, put covers over faucets before temperatures drop.
- Keep things dry. Drain outdoor hoses, faucets and irrigation systems. Look in the basement and crawlspace for wet spots. And make sure your water heater or boiler aren’t leaking.
- Clear the air (or vents and filters, at least). When’s the last time you checked your dryer vent? You should take a look at attic vents and exhaust ducts as well. And change that furnace filter, too!
- Take a walk. Cracks in your driveway or walkways will only get bigger, so get them fixed soon. If your deck has signs of wear, make repairs while the weather is still good.
- Get a tune-up. You or a professional should clean and tune your furnace, boiler and/or water heater, as well as your oven and range.
- Don’t play with fire. Before building your first fire of the season, check for soot or creosote build-up.
- Don’t play with fire extinguishers, either. But check them to ensure they still have pressure. Don’t have fire extinguishers? Put them on your shopping list, ideally one for each floor.
- Don’t forget those smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. Replace batteries when needed, and test regularly that alarms are working.
Colonial Insurance Agency wants to make sure your home brings you as much joy as possible. Save this list as a yearly fall checklist and remember to call your Colonial Insurance Agent when updating your home 262-255-3770.
Every year, unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning (not linked to fires) sends 20,000 people to the emergency room and causes more than 4,000 hospitalizations. And, you might consider them the fortunate ones. CO also is responsible for more than 400 deaths in America each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The truly frightening thing? Most of those victims likely had no idea they were in danger.
CO often is called “the invisible killer” because it’s odorless and colorless, and, when it builds up in an enclosed space, it’s deadly. Everyone is at risk, too, because CO is produced by a number of things we use every day, such as cars and trucks, stoves, grills, gas ranges, furnaces and more.
So, how do you protect yourself? Especially in winter, when it’s cold outside and you’re using heat sources inside your home?
Here are some basic actions you can take to help limit your exposure:
- Install — and test — CO detectors
Most states (37 in all) now have some sort of requirement regarding installation of carbon monoxide detectors in private homes. These should be placed outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Because you won’t smell or otherwise notice CO building up, having detectors that will sound an alarm is crucial. Don’t forget to test them once a month.
- Don’t create additional risk in your home
You should never use devices that generate large amounts of CO inside your home. Never operate a gas or charcoal grill inside (even in a garage), and make sure generators are used in a well-ventilated outside location away from windows, doors and vents. Make sure to have your furnace and chimney checked annually, too.
- Be careful in your car
Carbon monoxide can build up quickly when a vehicle is running, so, if you need to warm up your car, move it out of the garage after you start it.
- Watch out for snow — at home and on your vehicle
Snow and ice can block vents for your dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace. They also can obstruct the exhaust of your car. Either can be very dangerous.
- Know the symptoms of CO poisoning
People can be harmed by a small amount of carbon monoxide over a long period, or a large amount over a short period. Because you might not be able to identify when you’re in a dangerous situation, it pays to know what symptoms to look for:
- Low to moderate CO poisoning: headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness.
- High-level CO poisoning: mental confusion, vomiting, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness.
If you suspect CO poisoning, move the person (and yourself) outside immediately and call 911.
Remember, the important thing to know about carbon monoxide is this: Without CO detectors (and other common-sense measures), you won’t know when you’re at risk. So, take steps to protect yourself and your family today. Colonial Insurance Agency values your safety!