Winter can be a beautiful time. We usually spend it surrounded by piles of chocolate and other food, or driving around and checking out all the lights. You can snuggle up inside with a movie, or go skating outside. It’s cold in Canada, though manageable if you have a good parka.
But the winter season can also be really dangerous both in and outside of your property.
The emergency room sees an incredible 13,000 people each year in the United states for accidents related to holiday decorations. Almost 6,000 accidents happen when people fall putting up lights on the outside of their house. Another 2,000 people trip over extension cords used for lights and sprain or cut something because they forget to tape them down. Candles are another source of danger — they create a beautiful ambience in the home but they start 13 per cent of fires each year. And adjusting to the temperature is no easy feat — about 1,060 injuries are due to people trying to get warm and starting up a space heater (especially if you own Ottawa real estate or London, Ontario real estate, where temperatures can get down to an incredible -30 degrees Celsius!).
We spoke with Darcy MacLeod, Registered Home Inspector and owner of Brickhouse Home Inspection Services to get some tips on how to avoid these injuries and help make your home a safe space this winter. MacLeod also sits on the board of directors of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.
How to avoid a fire
“Common fire incidences that arise in winter often have to do with lighting and candles,” she says. “She recommends lightly touching your bulbs — if they feel hot to the touch then they’re hot enough to potentially start a fire. Swap them out for new plastic ones that do not generate heat.
And as for candles — don’t drink too much sherry and go to sleep. Ensure you never leave candles alone or go to bed with them still burning. If it’s hard to remember just avoid buying candles in the first place and go with stick, scented air diffusers. The same goes for our wood burning stove or fireplace. While nothing is lovelier than a warm, flickering indoor fire, it can get out of control quickly. Ensure the doors and screens are closed tightly and unless you heat your home with wood, don’t leave the home with an active fire burning.
Protect yourself from ice and snow
Falling ice or snow — inevitable in Canada — can cause serious injury. MacLeod suggests checking your roof areas above entry doors. Remove snow with a tool that will not damage your roofing material. If you have a metal roof, ensure avalanche guards are installed above entry areas.
Heater cables may help reduce ice buildup, if your home is experiencing buildup of ice at the roof’s edge. Contact a professional roofing and insulation contractor to see if there’s a larger issue going on. And don’t forget to insulate all exposed metal plumbing (like in a crawlspace), because it will freeze faster than plastic plumbing.
By implementing some of these measures and taking basic precautions you can have a safe and healthy winter.
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Through education and advocacy the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors cultivates a thriving home inspection industry based on the highest standards of professional development and ethical standards. In doing so, OAHI cultivates the ‘gold standard’ for home inspectors among consumers and the government. OAHI is the only provincially recognized body of home inspectors by The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994. OAHI is a not-for-profit association.
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