Take precautions as temperatures drop

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, December 15, 2022

Ready or not, winter is on its way to Virginia. With colder temperatures settling in, the weeks leading up to winter are a prime time to prepare your home for damaging snow and ice storms.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to getting your home ready for winter,” said Scott DeNoon, senior farm product and underwriting manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.

“Throughout the year, it’s important to inspect your home regularly, and perform any repairs wherever they’re needed,” he continued. “Take the time to maintain and winterize your home while the weather is still mild.”

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, of which VFBMIC is a founding member, recommends homeowners assess their exposure to winter storms ahead of winter, and plan accordingly.

The organization suggests property owners check that any downspouts, gutters or other drainage systems are free from debris and vegetation to prevent water from pooling during winter. These practices can help mitigate the risk of ice dams — thick ridges of ice that build up and prevent snow from draining — from forming along roof edges.

Standing water can compromise a roof’s structural integrity and can lead to mold-related issues if the water leaks into interior ceilings and walls.

Inside the home, attics should be sealed and insulated from the elements. Homeowners also are encouraged to test their heating systems to ensure they’re functioning properly, and inspect and replace weather stripping and caulk around drafty doors and windows, if necessary.

Taking appropriate measures will help keep the interior of your home warm and help safeguard it from damaging weather events.

Freezing temperatures also pose a danger to pipes, though keeping thermostats at reasonable levels and opening cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes can help prevent them from freezing and bursting.

It also is advisable to let faucets drip during times of extreme cold and to insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, such as those that run along exterior walls.

IBHS also advises homeowners to purchase snow and ice removal supplies such as snow shovels and salt. Using additional equipment, such as snow rakes, can help remove any accumulated snow from a roof and keep it from being weighed down.

Lastly, homeowners and renters should have a communication plan and an emergency kit in place for an extended power outage. An emergency kit should include items such as water, nonperishable food, blankets, flashlights, a first aid kit and a backup heating source if possible.