Precautions to Take in Severe Cold Weather


With snowfall and sub-zero temperatures, much of the country is experiencing severe and sustained cold weather.  Melting ice and freezing temperatures can inflict considerable damage on homes.

Here are some tips and steps you can take to keep your home safe and make insurance losses less likely during extended severe weather.

  • Keep walkways and entrance areas to your home clear of snow and ice.  Avoid accidents that can occur due to your neglect.
  • Clear gutters of debris to allow melting snow and ice to flow freely.  Be sure to look for ice dams near the down spout.  This can cause water to build up and seep into your house…or cause fractures in the foundation cement.
  • Keep your thermostat to a minimum of 65 degrees. Temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves so, take care not to allow your pipes to freeze.
  • In case you have to use it, identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home.
  • Open hot and cold faucets to let them drip slowly.  Moving water within the pipes will help prevent freezing.
  • If you have a swimming pool and expect temperatures to drop below freezing, run the pool pump at night to keep the water flowing through the pipes.
  • Make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • Keep the garage doors closed if your garage is connected to your home.
  • Look out for damaged branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage.  Move cars if they’re within the vicinity.
  • If you have a wood stove, fireplace or electric heaters, make sure they are working properly.
  • Be sure to close the flue in your fireplace when not in use.
  • If you plan on leaving your home for a trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly. If there is a problem with frozen pipes or water leakage, attending to it quickly could mean far less damage.
  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time and, temperatures are expected to drop below zero, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.  This includes pool plumbing.

If the worst has happened…

  • Don’t wait for your pipes to burst if they are frozen.  Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • If you run into mishaps, call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items so be sure to keep good records.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Standard homeowners policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. However, check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

For a more in-depth article of how to weatherproof you home:

Weatherproof Your Home

We hope you have a safe & warm winter!!  Best of luck!