Winter weather can cause damage to any property, so it is important to be aware of what increases your risk of damage to your home — and what steps you can take to avoid those risks. For example, pipes located near an exterior wall can easily freeze or burst from extreme cold, causing water damage to your residence and your possessions.
Unpredictable winter weather can cause property damage, vehicle damage, business disruptions, equipment damage (for veterinarians who practice from their residences), and other headaches. To minimize property losses and claims, follow this safety checklist:
Take care of temporary heat needs. Temporary heat can be brought into rooms that are particularly cold or at a greater risk for freezing. Temperature-sensing cables can be tied to interior sprinklers that set off an alarm when a certain temperature threshold is crossed. Additionally, extra pipe insulation can be added in high-risk areas for very little cost.
Inspect annually. Boilers and roofs should be inspected for potential defects and leaks at least annually, preferably just before the winter season and again after a major storm.
Maintain temps. To prevent frozen pipes, keep thermostats at 55°F or higher, even in less-used areas of your home (like a basement) and especially if you leave the residence for a weekend away.
Clear off snow or ice accumulation. Snow accumulation on a roof can cause sagging of the roof structure, damage, and, in some cases, roof collapse. Ice damming, the buildup of ice on the eaves and soffit area of a roof, can cause chunks of ice to break off and fall, causing a hazard to anyone outside the house. When the ice melts, it can cause water to seep into the building through the roof system, causing interior damage. Depending on the amount of snowfall or other winter conditions, consider preventive measures. Pre-arranged snow removal for heavy accumulations or the use of a roof rake will reduce the chances of snow/ice from falling off and damaging property or injuring family members.
Keep your water supply flowing. Flowing water can break up ice. When outside temperatures remain below freezing, it's less expensive to run your faucet regularly than to repair a frozen or burst pipe.
Backup the backup power. A generator will only work if it has been maintained properly. Make sure you store the appropriate amount of fuel required for backup power to function as needed.
Practice safety with portable heaters. The National Fire Protection Association reports that space heaters — whether portable or stationary — account for as much as one-third of heating fires each year. Fires occur when heaters are placed near combustibles, are not properly plugged in, or are lacking adequate safety features.
Understand Your Insurance Coverage
Having the right homeowner’s or renter’s coverage in place will help ensure that you are protected in the event of property damage or accident.If you have questions about your current coverage or are considering changing policies, connect with the AVMA Trust. As a valued AVMA member, we have dedicated resources available to make your decision making easier.