A snowman wearing orange glasses, pink scarf and a beanie

Top 10 Tips for Winter Safety

November 29, 2018 / Katharine Gebhardt

It's that time of year to winterize our home and get our vehicles geared up for the winter season. Help your customers get ready with these 10 tips to make their home and travel safer this winter.

Love it or hate it, it’s time to get ready for winter. Whether you’re planning to get out there and enjoy it, or planning your winter escape, there are 10 things we should all do to be safer this winter.

10 tips for winter safety this year, at home and on the road

Winter Safety at Home

1. Get your furnace tuned-up. Preparing your furnace helps it run efficiently and safely all winter long. Not only could that save you a long, cold wait for a repair mid-winter, it’s also a safety issue. While you should have a carbon monoxide detector in your house, an inspection should include a test for leaks.

2. Seal any drafts. It’s easiest to check for drafts on a windy day. The most obvious problem areas are doors and windows. Electrical outlets, exhaust fans and vents, your attic hatch, ceiling lights, behind bathtubs and under sinks can be culprits too.

3.  Disconnect garden hoses from exterior faucets. If water freezes in the hose it could rupture the faucet and cause a leak. Drain hoses and, if possible, store them to protect them from cold weather.

4. Prepare an emergency kit. Extreme weather and power failures could leave you cold dark and hungry without an emergency kit. Make sure you have a flashlight with lots of fresh batteries, survival blankets, water and non-perishable food. Keep some of your prescription drugs in the kit (away from children and pets) in case you have to leave your home for a few days. If you have pets, have a kit ready for them too.

5. Look after your house if you’re away. Keep the heat on while you're away, and have somebody check around the house every few days. It’s important to keep your home looking lived in, so put lights on timers (or control them from your smartphone). Arrange for somebody to pick up mail and clear your snow regularly too.

Winter Safety on the Road

6. Install winter tires. Popular Mechanics [1]calls winter tires the single biggest traction improvement you can make. And the added bonus? Most insurance companies offer a discount if you have winter tires on. Make sure your tires have the “snow tire symbol”: a mountain with a snowflake in it. You also need to have all four winter tires matching, because the tread pattern can make a difference.

7. Stock up on auto supplies. Replace your wiper blades seasonally and switch windshield wiper fluid that’s graded for -40°C. Keep an extra jug in the car too along with your scraper and snow brush. Fill up when your gas tank gets to half full. Winter traffic jams can run you out of gas if you’re low.

8. Pay attention to weather conditions. Listen to weather and highway reports and, if you can, stay home in bad weather. If you have to go, slow down, leave space and remember to brake, steer and accelerate gently. Don’t use cruise control on wet or slippery roads and never pass a snowplow.

9. Perform routine checks. Brush all of the snow off your car before starting out. Check your lights are working and brushed off too. LED lights don’t create enough heat to melt snow, so you may need to stop safely and clear them as you go. Fill up with washer fluid before you leave home. Check your tire pressure regularly and when the tires are cold. Don’t forget to check the spare, too.

10. Carry an emergency kit. If you do get stuck on the road, you’ll be glad you prepared. Your kits should include extra warm clothes, a survival blanket, flares and a survival candle (along with waterproof matches). Put in non-perishable food, a small shovel, booster cables, a dry cloth and a reflective vest too.

Feeling Pretty Prepared, or Haven’t Started Yet?

While it’s a great idea to aim for all of them, don’t worry if you’ve only done 1 or 2 of these, or none at all. It’s never too late to plan to be safe this winter. Start now – many of these only take a few minutes to complete.

1 How to Drive in Winter: 12 Hacks from the Pros to Master Travel in Snow and Ice”, by Ben Stewart in Popular Mechanics, November 16, 2017.