Check all window and door locks for proper operation
Check your home for water leaks
Review your fire escape plan with your family
Make sure there are working nightlights at the top and bottom of all stairs
Have a heating professional check your heating system every year
Protect your home from frozen pipes
Replace your furnace filter
Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone
Test your emergency generator
Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper
Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures
Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Make sure the caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heat/cooling loss
Make sure that the caulking around your bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring
Other safety ideas for stairs:
Tile and painted wood or concrete stairs can be slippery when wet or when a person's shoes are wet. Resurface the treads with slip-resistant strips near the stair nosing.
All stairs of at least three risers should have a handrail.
Do not store items on the stairs.
Have a heating professional check your heating system every year.
Woodburning stove connector pipes and chimneys should be inspected by a certified chimney sweep at least annually.
Protect your home from frozen pipes.
An average of a quarter-million families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter, all because of water pipes that freeze and burst.
And recovering from frozen pipes is not as simple as calling a plumber. An eighth-inch (three millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons (946 liters) of water a day. Both plastic (PVC) and copper pipes can burst.
By taking a few simple precautions, you can save yourself the mess, money and aggravation frozen pipes cause.
Before the cold hits
Insulate pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic. These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember - the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
Heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.
Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
When the mercury drops
A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before you go away
Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing or
Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes freeze
Don't take chances. If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. (Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.)
Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.
Replace your furnace filter.
Furnace filters need to be replaced frequently to allow your heating and cooling systems to operate properly.
Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty.
By doing this, you are removing flammable liquid storage from your garage. At the same time, make sure you aren't storing dirty, oily rags in a pile. They can ignite spontaneously.
Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper.
Soot and creosote, which build up inside the chimney, can ignite when a fire is lit in the fireplace.
Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures.
Bird nests on top of light fixtures are a fire hazard. Bird nests in chimney flues can prevent a proper venting of combustion gases and can catch fire from sparks. You should exercise great caution when working on your roof or consider hiring a qualified professional to take care of any work that needs to be done.
Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Read more at Smoke alarms save lives.
Make sure the caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heat/cooling loss.
Check glazing for loose or missing putty or glazing compound. This will also help reduce water damage to the windows and door frames.
Make sure that the caulking around your bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring.
Check for cracked or missing caulk around the base of your toilet, bath tub, and bathroom cabinets. Properly sealing gaps between your bathroom fixtures and flooring material can prevent damage.