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Even Canadians Need Some Cold Weather Reminders

Once again, it is time to review some cold weather strategies to reduce, minimize or avoid potential losses for Ontario home owners. For many of our clients this should now only serve as a reminder. For our new clients please carefully read –

• If you will be leaving your home for even a day or two, it is a good idea (and an Ontario Homeowners policy requirement to prevent freezing) to shut off the water supply and drain your pipes OR have someone responsible check inside your home daily to make sure the heat is being maintained. If not done and your furnace shuts off, your water pipes may freeze resulting in major uninsured damage!

• Even in the warmer months, if you are gone for a few days, consider shutting your water off. A burst pipe at any time is a nightmare and more so if you are not home and the water is running for days.

• Now is a good time to give your roof a final check and arrange for any necessary repairs. Doing so when it’s covered in snow and the winter wind is howling can be both difficult and very costly.

• Ice and snow build-up on your roof can result in seepage, cracking of walls and even collapse of your roof (especially cottages). Carefully check that your attic ventilation is sufficient, that your ceilings are properly insulated and your eaves troughs are free of leaves and debris.

• Beat the rush and arrange for early cleaning and servicing of your furnace, flues and chimneys (especially if you have a woodstove!). Also, remember we (or your insurance adviser) need to be advised if you have a woodstove. This is critical and forgetting to do so could invalidate insurance.

• Take stock of your ice salt and check your snow shovels. Remember it is your responsibility to keep your sidewalks, driveways and steps free of ice and snow. It may help avoid serious injury from a nasty slip or fall and a subsequent costly lawsuit.

• If you have a snow blower start it to make sure it is running smoothly. If it needs servicing get it in early to avoid the rush. This should go without saying – do not re-fuel your snow blower, lawnmower or any gas equipment inside your garage!

• Check your CO (carbon monoxide) detectors and smoke detectors. We hope this is now routine and done on a regular basis. Batteries should be changed at least every 6 months whether needed or not.

• Reminder to turn off from inside and drain your outdoor faucets.

• Along with regular removal of lint from your dryer’s lint screen, it is important to clean out the dryer ducting to the outside vent. This may mean removing the outdoor lint cover and reaching into the duct e.g. with a straightened clothes hanger, to drag out the lint build-up. Letting this build up can result in a fire.

• For car owners, now would be a good time to check and install snow tires (auto insurance discounts), replace your windshield wipers, prepare an emergency kit, stock up on supplies of windshield fluid and prepare your car (and yourself) for the annual challenge of fall and winter driving.

Finally, with more slippery roads, and more frequent driving in the dark, take a few minutes to step back and re-evaluate your driving habits. Move over for large trucks behind you, signal lane changes, and drive defensively leaving lots of space in front and even behind you. Please be safe out there!

At Guthrie Insurance brokers we love looking after the insurance and risk management needs of Ontario home owners. Keeping claims to a minimum helps everyone and absolutely helps keep Ontario insurance premiums as low as possible.