Winter is a time for gathering. Whether you’re hosting a holiday celebration or your house is the hot-spot where people hang out when the temperatures are freezing outdoors, it’s important to have a few winter safety measures in place to keep your family members and guests safe.

10 Home Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Family & Friends Safe This Winter

While winter is a great time for getting together, it can also be a hazardous time when it comes to dangers on your property.

If you want to keep your loved ones safe, reduce the risk of injury, and avoid a potential lawsuit, there are a number of winter home maintenance tasks you should make sure to perform each winter.

Here are 10 of the most important winter home maintenance tips to keep in mind as winter sets in.

1. Have Your Heating System Serviced

Having your furnace or boiler serviced is important so you can ensure that it is in good working order when the time comes to crank up the heat, but it’s also important from a safety perspective. You’ll want to make sure everything is working properly so you don’t have to worry about exhaust issues, gas leaks, or fire risks once your heating system is working hard on a daily basis.

2. Have Your Chimney Cleaned

Having your chimney professionally cleaned is key to the prevention of chimney fires. If you have a fireplace or woodstove that you’re planning to use throughout the winter, be sure you have your chimney cleaned before you light the first one.

3. Decorate Safely

Holiday decorations are fun and festive, but they can also be hazardous. Be sure to use only lights that are up to code and are in good working order. Follow all instructions for plugging in and piggy-backing strands. Be sure all cords are tucked away so they aren’t tripping hazards, and keep potential dangers (like small figurines) out of reach of children. If you’re planning to climb a ladder while you’re decking the halls, be sure you have someone around to help and spot you.

4. Assemble a Winter Emergency Kit

Bad weather can strike at any time during the winter here in the Northeast. Sometimes winter storms show up unexpectedly, so it’s important to be prepared! Having a winter emergency kit on hand is a good idea. Bottled water, flashlights and candles, blankets and alternative heat sources, some non-perishable groceries, car phone chargers, and other items can be incredibly valuable and could even be lifesavers when winter snow and ice keep you trapped inside! Be sure to update your kit each year by replacing expired items with fresh ones.

5. Shovel Sidewalks & Driveways in a Timely Fashion

Keeping your sidewalks and driveway clear is key to preventing slip and fall accidents, which can be especially serious when snow and ice are involved. Try to remove snow as soon as possible after a snowstorm hits. If you’re expecting guests, try to make sure that your walkways and driveway are as clear and non-slippery as possible upon their arrival. Salt and sand can help, too!

6. Have Your Snowblower Serviced

Shoveling can be hard work, and every year we hear stories of people who overexert themselves and have a heart episode while shoveling. Take the time to have your snowblower serviced and be sure it’s in good working order before the first big snowstorm hits so you can keep yourself safe while you’re removing large quantities of snow.

7. Run the Car in the Driveway

Garages are great in the winter for keeping cars a little warmer and keeping them clear of snow and ice. If you like to run your car to warm it up before you take off, be sure to move it to the driveway before doing so. Running the car in the garage can cause a dangerous collection of exhaust.

8. Test Smoke Detectors

From fireplaces and woodstoves to candles and space heaters, there are lots of fire hazards around the house during the winter months. Be sure to test your smoke detectors before the season gets underway so you’ll be alerted if something sparks unexpectedly.

9. Clean Your Dryer Vent

From drying wet laundry and damp snow clothes to warming up towels, your dryer will be running a lot during the winter. Clean out your dryer vent to remove lint before winter arrives so you can rest assured that your dryer is working safely and efficiently.

10. Watch for Icicles

Icicles can be really dangerous, especially if they form in places where people could get hit if they fall. To prevent icicles, be sure your gutters have been cleaned so they can clear melting snow properly without forming ice jams and drips that could grow into icicles. Keep an eye out for icicle formations throughout the season and try to address them before they become a danger to family member and visitors.

Looking for other helpful winter home tips? Be sure to check out the following:

Tips for Storing Holiday Decorations – Ideas for storing your holiday decor in a practical, organized way.

Is Your Home Ready For Winter? – We review key items you’ll want to take care of to prepare your home for the long winter months.

How to Warm Up Your Home Without Turning Up The Heat – Easy ideas for warming up without cranking up the thermostat.