1. Make sure you’re prepared for snow before the weatherman says it’s coming. Stock up on tools and products you’ll need like:
    * Shovels
    * Ice scrapers/brushes for car
    * Insulated work gloves
    * De-icing products and rock salt

2. If you’re on your own and have young children, have a plan in place so that someone can babysit while you clear snow, or see if you can hire someone locally to do the job.

3. When snow does arrive, clear walkways, steps, and driveways as soon as possible; treat icy areas with salt or de-icing products.

4. Beware of freezing pipes, which can produce big, costly messes. Try these troubleshooting tips:
    * Wrap anything exposed with insulation sleeves or 2 inches of Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed heat tape.
    * Caulk cracks and holes in your home’s outer walls and foundation. Pay special attention to holes left by cable installation which could leave pipes exposed.
    * Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors on especially cold days to let warm air circulate around pipes.
    * Know where the main water valve is (usually in the basement or outside near the curb) so you can quickly turn water off in case of an emergency. If you plan on leaving the house for an extended period, shut the valve completely.


1. Create clear paths for water to flow away from your home. Even a small collection of water can create the potential for mold (which is bad for your health...and your wallet!).
    * Clear gutters, downspouts, and window wells or entry doors that lie below the general grade of your property.
    * Check for gaps and holes around pipes, electrical boxes, and vents. Use waterproof caulk to seal.
    * Inspect sump pump and drains to ensure they operate properly.
    * Consider rolling up area rugs and moving them to a second story in case water seeps into your house.

2. If your home is at risk of flooding, consider elevating appliances, furnace, water heater and electrical system components like fuse and circuit breaker boxes.

3. Give your roof a review, or hire a licensed contractor or handyman to do it for you.

    * Look for signs of wear and tear, such as loose or broken shingle tabs and cracked or curling shingles.
    * Check interior ceilings for water stains, which could signal a possible leak.

4. Trim trees so they don’t rub against the roof.

5. Know how to shut off utilities to your home with these tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

    * NATURAL GAS: Procedures differ, so contact your gas company for instruction on how to shut off your meter. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas. FEMA warns that if you do, never turn it back on yourself; call a professional.
    * WATER: If you don’t know where the main house valve is, ask the utility company or a plumber for help locating it. It can usually be found in the basement, on an exterior wall, or near your water meter.
    * ELECTRICITY: At the circuit box, turn off all individual circuits before shutting off the main. If you need help locating the box and understanding the circuits inside, contact your local power company or an electrician.


1. July falls during the peak time for grill fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Keep your cookouts safe with these tips:
    * Place all outdoor grills away from structures and items that can catch fire.
    * Clean and remove grease or fat buildup from grills and the trays below.
    * If the flame goes out on your propane grill while you’re cooking, turn off the grill and gas. Wait at least 15 minutes before you light it again to allow time for the propane to dissipate and avoid a gas explosion.

2. Trampolines are all fun and games until an accident happens. Follow these guidelines to play it safe:
    * The recommended age for trampolines is six and up.
    * Only allow one person to jump at a time to minimize risk of injury.
    * Use shock-absorbing pads to completely cover springs, hooks, and frame.
    * Regularly check equipment for tears and detachments.
    * Always supervise. Even while parents watch, accidents happen.
    * Secure the trampoline to prevent unauthorized use. Lock your gate and discourage neighborhood children from using it when you aren’t home.

3. From the beach to your backyard, make swimming safety your #1 waterside priority.
    * Always supervise kids around pools and other bodies of water.
    * Install a proper fence—four feet or taller—around the pool and spa. It should have a self-closing, self-latching gate, and a gate alarm.
    * Make sure your homeowners policy accounts for risks associated with a pool and spa. Consider an umbrella liability policy for extra protection.


1. October is Fire Safety Month, making it prime time to ensure fire alarms are installed:
    * On each floor of your home
    * In each bedroom
    * Outside each sleeping area.
    * If your home doesn’t have a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector, aim to have at least one separate CO alarm on each floor.

2. Develop a fire-escape plan and discuss it with your family. Plan to practice it at least 2X a year.

3. Rid your laundry room of risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause of at-home clothes dryer fires is failure to keep the appliance clean.

    * Always use a dryer with a lint filter, and clean the filter before and after each load.
    * Clean the back of the dryer and around the drum, where lint can get trapped.
    * Have the interior of the dryer and venting system maintained by qualified service personnel.

4. Practice fireplace safety and make sure your fireplace is well-maintained:
    * Have chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.
    * Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
    * Keep fireplace coverings, such as glass doors or mesh screens, open while burning a fire to ensure complete combustion and keep creosote from building up in the chimney.
    * Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.

For additional resources and tips for staying on top of your home needs, click here to explore USAA’s Home Advice Center.


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