Here's your winter storm reality check: Are you prepared?

It’s that time of year. Winter is here and with it, severe weather events are inevitable. Between frozen pipes, falling tree limbs, space heater fires, and black ice, dangers are abound when freezing temperatures combine with even slight precipitation.

Each year, winter storms create more than $1 billion in insured losses. In preparation for the 2019 winter season, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) has drawn up a winter storm preparedness reality check for property owners to take to ensure they are ready.

In their reality checklist, PCI poses the following questions to homeowners, renters and motorists:

  • Do you allow extra space to brake when driving during the winter?
  • Have you prepared an emergency travel kit for your car and/or home?
  • Have you checked your attic and pipes to ensure they have proper insulation?
  • Have you made sure your heating system and chimney have been cleaned and inspected?
  • Have you talked with your insurance agent or company to review and understand your coverage?
  • Have you made sure home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and working?

If you found yourself answering “no” to any of these questions, PCI has winter storm preparedness information available in its Winter Storm Headquarters that may help.

Cold weather tips for homeowners

One of the biggest dangers comes from heating fires, which is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Nearly half (49%) of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February. PCI warns that it is important to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from heating equipment (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, and portable heater).

Frozen pipes and water damage are the second biggest concern. PCI cites that these accidents account for 22% of all homeowners claims.

Insulate pipes, especially those leading to the outside, and plug holes around the pipes with insulation or spray-in foam. Make sure there is warm air flowing around pipes that are located near an outside wall. Check pipes under sinks to make sure they will get adequate heat. If you plan to travel and leave your home unoccupied for several days in cold weather, be sure to keep your heat on to prevent pipes from freezing. Make sure there is clear access to the main water shut-off valve in case there is a leak or a pipe suddenly bursts.

Winter road hazards

PCI cites 22% of crashes involving property damage are caused by bad weather, including rain, snow and ice.

For motorists, PCI warns to winterize your vehicles by checking your antifreeze, battery, tires and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure your headlights, taillights and emergency flashers are working. Prepare an emergency travel kit with items such as blankets, jumper cables, a shovel, a flashlight, salt, flares and other emergency supplies. A toolkit, bottled water and snack food are also useful items to include. Keep at least half of a tank of gas in your car at all times.

Posted 11:00 AM

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