Protect Your Home from Fire, Ice, and Snow This Winter

Thursday December 07, 2017 - Home

Protect Your Home from Fire, Ice, and Snow This Winter

Winter can be a beautiful time of year, but it can also pose serious threats to your home- Even more so in climates such as Michigan, where our winters continually take a toll on our homes and businesses. By taking a few safety precautions and following simple tips, you can help protect your home against many cold weather hazards like:


According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), space heaters and improperly maintained chimneys combined are the second-most common cause of house fires in the US. Between 2009 and 2013, space heaters accounted for 40 percent of home heating fires and 84 percent of deaths related to home heating fires. Holiday decorating is another danger. The NFPA reports that between 2009 and 2014, US fire departments responded to a combined average of 1,070 home fires each year that resulted from Christmas trees and decorations. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to keep your home warm, festive, and safe through the holiday season.


  • Keep flammable materials like cloth and wood at least three feet away from furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters.
  • Never leave open flames unattended, such as fireplaces or burning candles. Keep children and pets away from these areas to avoid accidents.
  • Have a professional inspect, clean and perform any necessary maintenance on your heating equipment and/or chimney every year.
  • Place a sturdy screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from flying out into the room.
  • Turn off space heaters before leaving a room or going to bed.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.

Holiday Decorating

  • Add water daily to live Christmas trees. If a fire starts, a tree with sufficient moisture will burn more slowly and allow you more time to respond.
  • Whether your tree is live or artificial, make sure it's at least three feet from the nearest heat source, including fireplaces, radiators, and candles.
  • Never use outdoor lights for inside decorating. Their higher temperatures make them more likely to ignite.
  • Inspect lights before use. If you find any frayed wires, broken cords, or loose bulb connections, discard the lights and use a new set.
  • Turn off holiday lights when you leave home or go to bed.
  • When hanging lights, use clips instead of nails to avoid damaging the cords and exposing the wires.
  • Do not place decorations around open flames, like candles and fireplaces.
  • Dispose of live trees properly. They will dry out quickly and become a fire hazard, so don't store them in your home or garage.

Ice and Snow

In addition to the cold, winter brings snow and ice and its own set of problems, including everything from downed power lines and damaged roofs to frozen (and burst) water pipes. While you can't stop nature, you can take steps to mitigate damage to your property.
  • Have your roof checked to make sure it can bear the weight of heavy snow. Repair any roof leaks to prevent ice buildup, and cut tree branches that could break under heavy snow and fall onto your home.
  • Clean out gutters so that water can flow freely. Stagnant water can freeze and damage gutters and walls.
  • Ensure your attic and walls are properly insulated and repair or install weather stripping along doors and windows. If appropriate, install storm windows.
  • When temperatures drop below freezing, open your cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around water pipes. In unheated spaces or when temperatures are bitterly cold, allow faucets to drip to keep water flowing.
  • Ice dams occur when ice and snow melt and refreeze, often from heat escaping the attic or top floor. This can lead to interior water damage or even roof collapse. Guard against this by ventilating and insulating your attic, and consider installing a water-repellent membrane under the roof for extra protection.
With a little planning and work, you can help defend your home against winter perils. Be sure to reach out to an experienced contractor like Multi Serve if you need professional assistance getting ready or if you need help after the damage has already occurred.