Hibernating at home? Our winter safety checklist

As Canadians, we spend a lot of time indoors, so it’s important to schedule a little safety housework, especially in the winter where many of us basically become bears and hibernate during the coldest months of the year. 

We’ve put together ten reminders and easy tasks with a winter-themed playlist of our favourite winter tunes to help you tackle safety around your home over the next couple of months. So put in your earbuds and get ready to shimmy your way to safety. 

1. Now is the right time to look at Installing a backup power supply for your sump pump. This will help avoid flooding during power outages and other“Cold Weather Blues” (Muddy Waters). Check out Forbes 5 Best Battery Backup Sump Pumps of January 2023 list. 

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2. Winter is definitely “Sweater Weather” (The Neighbourhood), but if you use an electric space heater to keep warm, never leave it unattended or left on when you leave the house or go to sleep. Also be sure that it is at least three feet away from anything flammable, like curtains. 

3. If you have an electric garage door opener, know where the manual release lever is located and how to operate it so you (or your car) don’t get trapped inside your garage during a power outage, especially when it’s “-60°C Avec Les Vents” outside.

4. “It May Be Winter Outside” (Love Unlimited), but if you use a generator, connect the items you want to use directly to the generator outlets. Never connect a generator to your home’s electrical system. Generators also require proper ventilation and should not be used inside your home or garage. 

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5. Ensure you have working fire alarms on every floor of your home. Consider installing additional ones in every bedroom. The start of a new year is also the perfect time to test them as you settle in for what feels like a “Forever Winter” (Taylor Swift).

6. Before we get “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow” (Nick Cave and The Badseeds), it’s a good idea to check that your home’s outdoor exhaust vents are clear of snow and ice. This prevents gases from your furnace, fireplace and water heater from being trapped in your house, and prevents the accumulation of carbon monoxide. 

7. It “Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter” (Ingrid Michaelson), so you’re probably not venturing out until May anyway. Remember to regularly check your furnace filters as they will need to be replaced more often in the winter. This will improve air quality, keep your heating system working at optimal performance and save you energy in the long run. 

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8. There’s nothing like a cozy fire on a winter’s night, so it’s a good idea to clean your fireplace for safety and better airflow. To keep the “Colder Weather” (Zac Brown Band) out, be sure to close the damper in your fireplace when it’s not in use. 

9. If it looks like the air quality in your home is giving you “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (Simon & Garfunkel) vibes, it’s because there’s more dust in your home during the winter months. It might be time to clean your air vents; particularly your dryer vent, and your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. You’ll cut down on dust and other air contaminants. Speaking of dust, maybe give your baseboard heaters a dusting for safety and increased energy efficiency. 

10. If you have a power outage, turn off all electrical equipment that was in use when the power went out, particularly stoves. If your vulnerable or elderly neighbours aren’t “Snowbird”s (Anne Murray), consider checking on them to ensure they are safe and warm, especially if there’s a power outage on a cold winter’s night. 

Finally, “Let it Go” (Idina Menzel). Maybe you realize the cold never bothered you anyway and you should emerge from hibernation to enjoy our beautiful city. Celebrate all the love you’ve shown your house this winter by belting our playlist at the top of your lungs!

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