Winter's coming – so it's time to start preparing for it. After you've hunted out the hats and mitts and boots for your family, take the time to get your house ready for winter too.
Have your furnace professionally inspected by a heating contractor. You don't want it to break down, catch the fire or become a source of carbon monoxide during heating months.
Buy some fresh filters so you wont have an excuse not to change the filter regularly over the winter.
Clean the area around your furnace so that it's free of dust and lint that can catch fire if they're near a hot furnace. Vacuum out the furnace vents and filters on each floor of your house.
Check over your space heaters. It's best to have electrical heaters with a switch that turns the heater off automatically if it falls over. Get rid of any kerosene, butane or propane heaters that you've been using indoors.
Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep. Install a liner if you don't already have one - it will reduce the build-up of flammable creosote which can cause a chimney fire, and will prevent fire from spreading through small holes in the chimney into the walls.
Lay in a supply of the right wood for your winter fires – hardwood (such as maple, yellow birch, oak, or elm) that has been split and seasoned for 6 months to a year, not softwood (such as pine or cedar). Burning green or wet wood, or softwoods, can create a build-up of creosote. Only burn treated logs occasionally, and alternate with hardwood, or you could get a build up of paraffin, which is also flammable.
Protect against sparks – install glass fireplace doors or use a fireplace screen, and use a hearth rug made of pure virgin wool (which is fire resistant to very high temperature) if you don't have at least eighteen inches or tile, brick or cement between the fireplace and any carpets or wooden floors. Keep tongs, a poker, shovel and heat proof gloves beside the fireplace so you can put back hot embers that fall out of the fireplace.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.
Prepare a container of sand, salt or ashes to sprinkle at entrances when they become icy. Rake wet leaves away from entrances (they're as slippery as ice.)
Inspect your home's exterior for things needing repair so they don't fall in a storm – shingles, shutters, bricks, eavestroughing, antennas, wires.
Pick up garden tools before they get hidden by leaves or snow and whack somebody.
Drain the outside taps so their pipes don't freeze. Turn off the inside tap controlling the flow to each outside tap and leave the outside tap open to allow room expansion if there's any water left in the pipe and it freezes.
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