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Winter Weather Ready checklist offers key homeowner tips


(BPT) - Did you know? Snow is easiest to clear when it’s fresh. A creaking sound may be a sign of snow load damage to your home. A garage may not provide enough ventilation to run a generator.

As we near the coldest part of winter, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is providing a free, easy-to-follow Winter Weather Ready checklist to guide cold weather prep and help ensure important steps aren’t overlooked before and after a severe winter weather event.

“After years of persistent drought, many homes in California and the Pacific Northwest may not be prepared for the significant precipitation, whether it be heavy, wet snow or torrential rainfall, that could cause a cascade of damage,” said Dr. Ian Giammanco, lead research meteorologist at IBHS, a nonprofit scientific research organization. “Our Winter Weather Ready guidance provides information to not only assess your exposure, but also actionable steps to reduce your risk of damage that can be expensive and inconvenient to repair and disrupt life.”

While the specific threats facing a home vary regionally, no area is immune from potential weather hazards. These actions can help homeowners be Winter Weather Ready:

Before a winter weather event:

  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts so water flows away from the home and reduces the risk of leaks.
  • Trim branches to avoid damage to the roof, siding, and windows.
  • Seal cracks and leaks around windows and doors.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Ensure you have plenty of fuel for generators and snow removal equipment.

Last-minute winter weather prep:

  • Purchase deicing products for front steps and walkways.
  • Shut off water and drain exterior sprinklers.
  • Stay informed with a reliable source for severe weather information such as the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Follow guidance from local authorities and enable weather alerts on a mobile device.

After a storm:

  • Watch for signs of snow load damage, such as creaking sounds, a sagging roof, cracks in the ceiling or walls, water stains, and doors or windows that no longer open and close correctly.
  • Check water flow by turning on faucets; if pipes are frozen, shut off the water supply and contact a plumber.
  • Shovel or use a snowblower to clear steps, sidewalks, and driveways as soon as it is safe to do so, as fresh snow is easiest to remove.
  • Operate generators in well-ventilated areas and never leave them unattended.
  • If the home is damaged, document losses and keep receipts electronically so you can access them from anywhere using cloud storage.

“As we move into the core winter months, checklists can help homeowners prioritize actions and reduce severe weather impact,” added Giammanco. “The good news is many of these steps are affordable do-it-yourself projects.”

For more ways to prevent damage from winter weather, see IBHS’s full Winter Weather Ready guide and checklist for residential properties, available on